Chapter 1: Chorus Time
I remember it now; it always feels like a dream. I usually remember it when I make soup or spaghetti, especially chocolate milk. And also when I’m alone around a fire. Anyway, it was a dangerous time. Yet, it feels like it happened only yesterday…….
My friends, Vanessa Zermeno, Trinity Lopez, and Liz Beckmann, plus some others from the 9th grade chorus class were at the biggest stadium in Los Angeles to perform from Mr. Garcia, our music teacher. I also noticed that Natalie Laurent, my younger sister, was here, but with her music teacher, Mr. Hu. I remember the good times Mr. Hu and I had in the 7th grade….but they had to go first than my class did. I was frustrated when I found out that they had to leave when we had to sing, but little did I know that I would be very grateful that they weren’t here.
I was talking, meanwhile, to my rich, funny, and a little vain, pretty, and best friend Selinda, who was dress in a blue tank top, purple skirt, and expensive heels, when our class was announced. We sang “Hush my babe”, “My Favorite Things”, and my favorite, “Kiss from a Rose”. It was also Robert Montano’s favorite, my boyfriend. He was also in chorus class with my besides being in my other classes like English, Math, World Historical Happenings, and Gym in our 8-period schedule. He was a fun, cool, cute, and respectable man, with brown hair, brown eyes, and light-brown skin, and he was a bit shorter than me. We looked at each other while singing, “I compare you to a kiss from a rose” and blushed. We loved going on dates and hugged each other a lot, but we never kissed (we’re only 15!). I wasn’t ready yet, and he respected that. But, mischievous as he was, he would steal a kiss on the cheek sometimes.
After our turn, it was a comedian’s turn; he looked a lot like Eugenio Derbez, a Mexican comedian, but I wasn’t so sure. I did know that a blonde, little scrawny boy that went to my school named Andrew always followed him around, claiming to be an apprentice of him. He kept to himself most of the time, especially around me, and I wondered why…..but, TOO LATE! I was to help the comedian pass out candies, and while I grumbled why Andrew couldn’t help him, I noticed I ran short. There was like 800 people and had only 150 candies. The comedian had already left, with Andrew as well, and I was stuck with 650 angry people. I was trying to find other candies that could help me when suddenly I hear “A FIRE!!!!”
Chapter 2: Fire
Everyone went berserk when they heard this. It was true; a fire had started, and was growing quickly. I’ve been to a camp before, which simulated all types of dangerous happenings, like a plane going to crash, a fire in a building, tornadoes, earthquakes, etc. Well, since I didn’t panic, I calmly said, loud and clear, “Everyone get out through the two exits on the left and right of the stadium.” My friends, meanwhile, were also trying to lead people quickly. Then Robert came to check if I was alright. He had a really stressed and worried expression on his face that I didn’t know why he wore until he found that I was okay. I realized he was worried if I was hurt and I hugged him, saying, “Oh, Robert, thanks for worrying about me, but we have to get these people out.” “Ok, I’ll help,” he replied, blushing a little about my remark. After most people got out, we went outside to see if a fire truck had appeared. No fire truck was there. I was confused and mad at how some stupid people don’t help unless there’s money, something I learned from my very smart political dad, who’s a politic biggrin ! He also helped in a club called, “Club Poncitlense” which helped sick kids all around the world with Mexican doctors from Poncitlán.
I looked around to see if one had appeared when I saw the stairs to the parking lot. It had caught fire and people were using it. It was made of metal and Selinda was at the top. I yelled to everyone using the stairs to get off and they did----except Selinda. She didn’t hear me and fell off. She got back up and ran to me, crying and saying she doesn’t know what to do. Then her hair caught fire and she ran around screaming. I grabbed a shirt that was nearby and started to extinguish the fire. When I did, she blamed me for causing the fire on her, and I yelled back, “No, I didn’t! If you heard me saying everyone get off the stairs, your hair wouldn’t have been black!” That did it, and she ran off in search of her limo ride.
Everyone was safe when I felt a bang on my head, and I felt unconscious. When I woke up, I was in a bed at the hospital. After I moaned so loud because of a headache and also I couldn’t see much, I saw Mom, Dad, and for some reason, Robert, although I knew he must have saw who had hit me then came to see if I was alright. “Oh, honey, are you ok”, my mom said. “The doctors said she would be alright after a few days,” my dad told her. “Yea, I’m fine,” I replied, “but I don’t know who had hit me on the head.” “Actually, I would like to explain about that,” said Robert, and asked for some alone time with me. When my parents left the room, he began with this, but it came out fast, I was trying to figure out his words and put them together, “I’m so sorry; I didn’t mean to hit you on the head. I thought you were a man trying to hurt yourself because I thought Selinda was you since her hair was black…and….” And it clicked. I noticed he stopped and stared at me. I wondered why until I realized it was because I had an angry face mixed with confusion. Then I yelled out loud why he had banged on my head instead of trying to find out who I really was. Then I told him to leave the room and it was over between us. He did so with a sad face (and a heavy heart; you could tell) and ran out. I bet my parents heard too when they said that yelling it out loud wasn’t a good choice. 1 year later passed…..
Chapter 3: Robert
I was in the 10th grade now, and the fire accident has changed so many things between two important people: #1 Selinda. She has hated me ever since her hair was burned, but grew back, and still believes I caused it. Now she has 3 new “better” friends, as she calls it. They are Veronica Butonia, Krista Cervantes, and Myrtle Beatrice. In high school, they all had double lockers with nothing but clothes, jewelry, and girly stuff things. Ugh, how I hated it when you had to have a pass to actually pass by their lockers. And to make it even worse, they had the girls’ locker room to themselves, used as a sauna, store, and exclusive showers. So what about the other girls in school? We had another girls’ locker room, but this time, it was kept in a bad condition, due to the fact that the school had to keep up with the rich girls’ locker room’s expenses. I love to find out things, and I found out that before all of this happened, my other friends didn’t like Selinda in the first place, probably because she was so snobby. They always wondered how I had befriended her. Truth is, I don’t really know. Well, after W.H.H. (World Historical Happenings) class, it was lunch, and Gloria, Trinity, Liz, and I were headed together to the cafeteria when I saw Robert, and that brings me to #2: Robert.
I loved staring at him, especially at soccer practice, when he couldn’t see me, but this time he did. He met my eyes and left to another part. My girlfriends saw that, too, and began to consult me, which irritated me a lot! “What is it with you,” Vanessa said. (She was the lecturer), “I think she needs to get away for a while,” said Trinity (she was the offerer, meaning she liked to offer ideas) “Oh, you’ll get over it, JoJo,” said Liz, using my least favorite nickname; it was Joey, not JoJo (she was the comforter), “if he hadn’t banged you on the head, you wouldn’t have yelled at him.” Yes, they knew of my problem, but I couldn’t help it. I tried once to forgive him, but his face, especially his eyes, had a cold stare, the one that made stone softer than it. And I couldn’t do it any more, and decided to give up.
Chapter 4: Mean Girls
Since Selinda loved to make fun of me, like saying, for example: “Get out of my way, crap” (I was brown almost all over) and, “Oh go away, Johanna. Didn’t you take a shower? You stink like a Mexican.” (I am a Per-Mex American: Peruvian-Mexican) but she had no right to say that. So, I played practical jokes on her, coming from my very trusty guy, Skater Joe. He was a good friend who always had a joke book, comic book, or prank book in his hand. Plus, he’s a skater, which made him instantly cute. But nothing goes on between us. Anyway, we’ve made lots of cool things to Selinda and her army, one which almost got us in problems with the Prince (principal). I remember one time we planned to hide in the rich girls’ locker room at lunch time 2 minutes before they came (they always came to eat in their locker room 2 minutes after the lunch bell.) We would wait until the right time, which was when they were serving spaghetti and chocolate milk, Selinda’s favorite. As we heard the door creak open, I jumped onto Joe’s back as he skated on his skateboard toward the exit. They were surprised and on the way, I managed to pick up Selinda’s tray so that the spaghetti fell on her shirt along with the chocolate milk. She screamed and made a wild grab at us. But fortunately, we were already out in the hall, skating down to the girls’ and boys’ locker rooms to change quickly into other clothes. You see, the plan was if that we skated quickly out of the rich girls’ locker room and out of the hallway, no one would see us. And it went perfectly. So when we changed, no one recognized us. We came out of the lockers with big happy grins as walked down. No one had seen what happened and asked if we had seen the two kids in there. We replied no, and casually walked down together. It was so funny to see Selinda walk through the halls with her face as red as a tomato. And no wonder! Her mascara was drooping, her pink sleeveless shirt was with a red and brown stain all over and to top it off, her hair was like a JUNGLE! Everyone laughed out loud as she walked to the Prince’s office. I kinda felt bad about what we did, until I said to Joe, “She deserved it, anyway.” “Yep,” he replied, “she sure did.”
Chapter 5: The Stadium
I loved to go to the stadium that once thrived with all sorts of songs, plays, operas, and things like that, before the fire. Now it’s all scorched from the fire and the red leather seats are now brown and black. But despite all of the destruction, I still went there. There was a screen that had a cartoon-ish person answer any question in the world. The last time I went, it went something like this:
I went inside and sat on one of the seats that weren’t burned. I had five questions to ask, mainly about me and Robert. My first 3 were about Natalie, Selinda, and my parents. The 4th was about school and tests and pop quizzes. But then my last one was about me and Robert. I asked, “Will Robert ever be with me?” And as soon as I asked it, I heard something in the back that might have caused the screen to turn off. I went through the back and saw a man or boy in the back. I tried to look in the back again, but then I fell through the burned hole on the center. THUD! Oww! Damn, I thought, how the hell do I get out now? I tried feeling my way out of it, because I knew there was an exit out here, but instead of feeling a wall, I felt……a face? In the dim light, I saw….. “Andrew! What are you doing here?!” “Uh, WH-what are you do-doing here,” he replied, obviously guilty, but guilty of what? “I came to ask questions, but what does it matter to you?” “I….heard you ask if …Robert will ever get back with you…again.” he said. “And I ask again, what does it matter to you?”, I replied acidly. “I just wanted you to know that…if he doesn’t want to get back with you…..” and he trailed off, looking at me as he spoke. Dude, he’s not even cute at all! So to reply politely as I can, I said, “No, Andrew! Hells no I would get with you. Uh-uh. Para nada.” (Ok, maybe it wasn’t so polite, but at least it was a little bit.) “You’ll regret this, Johanna, because I gave you the opportunity to be with me!” he yelled out. “And you think this is gonna affect me severely, huh?” I smirked. “Oh my god, I can’t get with Andrew! It’s all my fault, ooh, I’m so scared!” I cried out, making fun of him. He’s always so revengeful, and no one picks on him, at all. And I left him alone when I finally saw the exit door, hearing him yell out, “Like I said, you’ll regret this Johanna!” “Sure, sure, you just keep telling yourself that, and maybe, it’ll come true” I replied. In your dreams, I thought smugly as I left.
Chapter 6: Heath
As I left the stadium, I wanted to get home by walking, but it was too dark, so I waited for the bus. That was stupid, I noticed, because the bus didn’t come by at 8 P.M. in this area. A car was coming down the street, and for some mental reason, I tried to figure out who was the driver while trying to figure out how to get home. To tell the truth, I would’ve asked any car coming down the street to take me to my house, so I decided this car should do. I made a thumbs-up sign in the air, waving it up and down, when the car pulled over. I asked, without even bothering to see who was the driver if I could get a ride home, with directions. He (I could tell it was guy, probably from school?) said yes, and opened the door. When I got inside, we started talking, just to kill time. His name was Heath and he did go to the school. He was cute, with dimples, short cropped black hair and a strong body, and seemed to respect girls. How would I know? Let’s just say my dad is an encyclopedia. “Thanks for driving me home, Heath”, I said shyly, when I got to my house. What was making me act this way? “Don’t worry about, Joey” (yeah, told him my nickname. What’s so wrong about that?), “well, see you around.” And he sped down the street. Surprisingly, I sighed as I looked out to the street where he left. Whoa, I thought, and I shook my head, I must be coming down with something. Why would I sigh? Ugh, I need sleep probably, this gets harder now. First I fall through a hole, there’s an ugly stalker there who likes me, and now a cute guy out of nowhere like an angel- wait,-what am I thinking? And I fell asleep, dreaming of Heath. He seemed to help me get over Robert, but sometimes, not completely. I saw him at school and we hung out a lot. People began to say that we were actually together. And it turns out he was really popular. When we walked together, I can swear I hear my friends talk envy of me and him, and I can also hear Selinda hating on me. While we walked around, I heard Selinda has tried many times to get Heath’s attention, but failed. I felt really lucky. “So what do you want to do right now,” he asked. “Not sure, but I like to walk around the soccer field. Wanna come?” I said. “Sure”, he replied, and he smiled. I loved his smile, because the left corner went a little higher than the other and he had dazzling teeth, like mine! It reminded me of someone, but it hurt to think about him. As we walked around the field, I saw Robert look our way, and I saw that same broken heart look on his face, when I told him it was over between us.
Chapter 7: Prisoner
At lunch time, I walked around with my best of all friends, Katherine Maldonado. She was always there to consult me, help me, and surprisingly, she makes me a lot of gifts. A lot of times, she needs me because of her family problems: Dad’s a loving father but serial robber and mom’s a drunk. (She has to live with her mom and at night, but her dad steals food for her because her mom was mean.) The only gift I could give her was my loyalty, love, and friendship. Well, as I said, we walked around the school at lunch, and she told me of her daily troubles. “I wish Dad could get me out of the hellhole.” “What do you mean?” I said, worried. “I mean,” she said slowly, emphasizing each word, “that my mom keeps me prisoner in my own home. I feel like I’m in a jail cell. Her new boyfriend installed steel bars on every window so I wouldn’t get out. And guess what my meal is every stinking afternoon before my dad sneaks me good food: rice and undercooked beans!”. “Wow, that sounds pretty bad…….” I replied. This couldn’t be happening to her. I can see why her dad left..... There has to be something I can do…, I thought. Then I had a great idea. She loved to do comics and there was a contest for comics. The prize was 500 dollars. “Hey, you know what you should do?” I said. “What,” she replied; she must have been planning an escape plan. “You should enter the comic contest! The prize is $500! But if you were to win the money, leave the school and go to your father instead of going home. I just know that your mom will use the money for herself!” I exclaimed, but faltering at the end. “WHAT?! ARE YOU CRAZY?! THAT’S…….. not a bad idea after all. I guess it could work.” She said. She lightened up so much that she could’ve powered many light bulbs at once. “I’ll help your escape, but when your dad gives you food, tell him about it quick in case your mom is still awake, ok,” I told her. “Really? You would help me? That’s so nice……no one would go that far for me, even in this situation,” she replied, big fat tears drooping and cascading down her cheek. “Of course I will, Katherine. Come here,” I said, giving her a hug. Just imagine being in this situation, and the danger you’re in because you want to be free, not a prisoner. “But we’ll need help,” I said. “Like what,” she replied. “Come on, let’s start right now.”
Chapter 8: Her Sweet Escape
Well, that went bad……………NOT! Katherine won the contest and of course, the money prize. She won by a landslide, and we started the plan the day after. The plan was to go to her house and pack all her clothes in her school backpack, so her mom won’t notice what we were going to do. Then when her mom was asleep, which was usually when her dad cam around, she would explain to her dad that Heath tomorrow was going to drive me and Katherine to her dad’s place. When we got there, Katherine will finally live with her dad. At night, here dad came to slip in some food again, but Katherine quickly told her the plan. “Daddy, we have to do this in order for me to survive!” she exclaimed. “What do you mean survive, mija? What has this woman done to you,” he says. I was there because we managed to get me inside to help her. “My mother has been hitting me, Papi, and look at the bruises,” showing her dad the purple, green, red, and black marks all over her arms, legs and back. It was too much for me that I felt my face go hot, angry at the horrible monster she called “mother”. “If this keeps up, I’ll have internal bleeding, and she does almost every night when she gets drunk. Just please……please help me, Papi,” and she just broke, like the Hoover Dam’s protective wall fell apart and gushed out tons of water. I couldn’t help but cry at that moment, it seemed too sad to not cry. And as I did, it made me realize the danger we were in if we didn’t finish this quickly. “Katherine, let’s go to sleep. I think I heard something,” I said softly. I was going to sleep in the farthest point under her bed where I was out of view of mom if she were to come. Surprisingly, when I agreed to do this, I told my mom that I was sleeping over Liz’s house, and instead of usually calling my friends to make sure I was, she said “ok.” And we fell asleep. Sometimes, though, I heard her murmur in her sleep, “Mami, you’re so nice to me. Thank you for all the love you’ve given to me.” What could she have been dreaming about? But I was too tired to figure it, and I drifted to sleep slowly.
Chapter 9: Damn It, Not Again
The plan worked perfectly. When we woke in the morning, her mother was into her sleep so much, we could’ve ripped a chainsaw to life and she wouldn’t have woken up. How did we leave the house? Katherine figured out a way to pick the lock of the back door with her bobby pin. And the rest of the plan eagerly unfolded, happily making it much easier for us every step of the way.
Today at school, Katherine’s face was full of light and gratitude again, an opposite of all the darkness that kept her prisoner her teenage life. As we walked around today around the field today, she thanked me so many times, it got annoying, but I didn’t want to spoil the moment. Then we went our separate ways because she had to return a library book. As I made two revelations around the soccer field, which would you think coming down the opposite side but Andrew. Damn it, not again, I thought disappointedly. As he caught up to me, he gasped for breath, even when the jog wasn’t that long and hard. When he finished he started talking to me. “Hi, Johanna. What’s up,” he began as we walked. “Uh…nothing….,” I replied. I glanced sideways when he wasn’t looking and saw Robert glancing back and forth at us, playing soccer meanwhile. “Hey, I wanted to ask you again. Will you—“ he said, but I cut him off. “How many times do I have to tell you so you can get it into your system, Andrew? NOOOO. Do I have to break it down Barney style? Hi Andrew, Johanna says NO. How do you spell that? N-O. NO.” laughing inside because of the dopey way I said it, but as soon as I saw his face, my smile dropped. His face looked really mad; like he wanted to kill someone after that person killed someone he loved, kind of like he was avenging someone. I looked back again, and saw Robert looking again. I guess Andrew followed my gaze, because suddenly, he grabbed my neck and forced me to kiss him! His lips were angry because they pushed themselves into mine. I didn’t do anything, because I couldn’t; he was holding me too tight, I couldn’t move. So I just closed my lips real tight and my eyes. Meanwhile this was happening, I heard people go “OOOO” and “Look what Andrew’s doing!” I was surprised why any of my friends were there to help me. To my grand surprise, this whole ordeal lasted about 10 seconds when he got yanked from me! I saw Robert face’s near me when we glanced at each other, and at that moment, my memory of glancing at Robert in the stadium while singing flashed for a second. Then in a flash, I saw Robert fighting a nasty fight with Andrew. I backed away and ran to the library, where I found Katherine and the rest of my friends. They looked all happy, and I smiled for a second on how they all got along with Katherine instead of Selinda. Then as quietly as I could I went to their table and talked to them about what happened, big, fat tears rolling down my right cheek as I talked. “Are you okay, Johanny? Don’t worry, alright,” Katherine told me, using my favorite nickname beside Joey, and got closer to give me a hug. I felt comforted and strange because she almost never let me hug her ever since she lived with her mother. The rest comforted me, too, and all gave me a great big hug. When we left the library together in a group, we passed by the Prince’s office and inside, I saw Andrew and Robert. Don’t get Robert in trouble, please don’t, I prayed to myself, please.
Chapter 10: The Stadium Wish
Ever since I made the “Stadium Wish” as I call it, and also since I met Heath, I’ve been visiting it often, just not daily, like every other day. Many times when I visited, I’ve been thinking about Heath instead of Robert. Today, I kept scolding myself for that, as I walked down the aisle to my favorite seat, K-45. It was Robert and my first date when we went to see a movie, and that’s where we sat. And surprisingly, it looked better than the rest of the seats in the vast stadium. I had a few questions to answer but this time it’s was only 2. The first one: “Will Andrew stop stalking me and won’t go overboard?” I asked the question as if I was being held against my will if I didn’t ask, just so angry. The cartoon-ish person answered right away, but his answer scared me. “Yes, he will”, (I was relieved right there), “but he will go overboard, and will cause great danger, especially to the one you love the most.” My face froze and I was speechless, my expression worried. In a matter of seconds, I returned to reality and begun my second question: “Would Heath replace Robert Montano?” I held my breath for the answer, and I let out a gush of wind when I heard it: “No, he will not. He’ll relieve you of your pain, but you’ll not completely heal of it.” That was true, and I yelled out, “THANK YOU!!” I got too happy for the last question, so I couldn’t help it. Don’t blame me. As I ran up the stairs, I tripped on the 5th step and my school folders, plus my “excellent” drawing, according to my art teacher, Ms. Flores, of Robert fell onto the floor. I bent to pick them and when I did, I felt another hand. It was Heath. “Hi, beauty,” (That’s what he called me at random moments like this; these moments seemed to happen regularly for a reason……), “here, let me help you with this.” He picked up one of my folders, but before I could get it out of his reach, he snatched my Robert sketching. “Who’s…………this,” he asked, while looking at the drawing. His eyes carefully criticized my drawing, looking for a fault somewhere. “You must really like him, do you?” “Whatever d-do you mean, Heath,” I replied worriedly. He was known to have sudden outbursts of angry. I didn’t want to get into a storm with him, so I backed away slowly, but he walked forward as I moved. “Who. Is. This?!” he yelled. He inched toward me, clutching the drawing tightly. He was filled with anger, and the atmosphere enveloped me, causing me to freeze. I couldn’t talk, and he continued to yell at me more, asking me who it was. Then it happened.
Chapter 11: The Hit
SMACK! I didn’t even see it, but I felt the pain on my left cheek as I flew toward K-45. I tried to hold my self and hide from him while he charged toward me. I forgot everything in my life and focused all my energy on running away. I didn’t know he was going to hit me, so this came as a total surprise. Then, just like an angel in your need of a miracle, Robert comes and takes Heath down. Oh my god, I thought in my head as I watched Robert easily take heath down and knocked him out good so he’ll wake in an hour. “What is it with you and me, Robert,” I yelled out, “why do you keep getting in fights, especially when I’m around?! Just yesterday, you fight with Andrew, and today, you’re fighting with Heath!!” “I thought you wanted me to help you. I mean, he just hit YOU! How could you be mad at me for helping you when you just got HURT?” he yelled back. We just stared at each other but we stared and gazed at each other like we did singing “Kiss from a Rose”. After a few moments, my eyes screamed out, “Blink! BLINK!” and I did. Then I suggested we call the police to get Heath because of what he did. The police came, asking what happened, what might have caused him to have this sort of reaction, glancing frequently between me and Robert, and then asked if he hit me. I answered yes, and then told him the rest. They took Heath away to ask questions downtown. I walked outside and sat on the curb, clutching the drawing of Robert close to me. Robert then came to sit next to me, and noticed the paper in my hand. “What’s that,” he asked. “It’s nothing, but--“ and he grabbed it before I could tell him no. He took 2 minutes to see his crumpled face on the paper, and then it clicked for him what really caused the argument. “Oh, so that’s why he got mad,” he inquired, “this. Wow, it’s…………really good. I thought I was looking at myself. When did you make this?”. At the bottom, it said the date, which was the day he fought with Andrew. “Thanks for saving me,” I told him as he noticed the date. “Um, you’re welcome…..but you don’t need to—“ and I gave him a quick peck on the lips as I said, “no, I really mean it. But I have to go home. Thank you,” I called out as I ran home. I chuckled to myself when I left his expression with blush and happiness as I left. This just might work, I thought, let’s just hope nothing else goes wrong, but boy was I wrong.
Chapter 12: Angelica, the Matchmaker
Angelica, my best friend and also my favorite cousin, has decided to visit me as a surprise when I came home from school an afternoon. I remember it went something like this:
“So, it’s the surface area from Sander, the exam review tomorrow, and all I need to read today is Atticus of Rome. Nice.” Then I entered the living room and heard, “Um, I can’t find her. Are you sure she’s still at school?” It was my favorite cousin, Angelica! We were like very close sisters at a young age, when I was two and she was 4. We ran to my room to catch up on many details left trailing behind us while she was on college. As I got near to yesterday with Heath, which surprised me because I almost forgot that the slap didn’t leave a trace of the fight, I kind of faltered, and her eagle eyes and wise owl ears noticed this change. “Something went wrong with Heath, didn’t it, Johanna?” I sighed deeply, and then answered yes. Of course I had to tell her everything since the fire. But not about the hit, yet. So I confessed slowly, just in case her reaction got too angry. “Um, well, he has this anger mentality and we were at the stadium and he got mad and…..he……sort of…..slapped me across my face.” I then looked at her and stopped to stare at her face, red as a tomato. “Where is he now,” she demanded, it seemed right there she was like a lioness who got mad because something horrible happened to her cub. “Don’t worry, he’s in jail already, sheesh,” I replied, kind of pissed that she didn’t believe until after a few moments of silence and glances of my serious face. The shades of her face then changed gradually from red to blush to pink and then to her normal color, McDonald’s iced coffee. I began talking her about Robert and the fights. “But Angie, Robert always gets in fights, especially around me and increasingly these days, just to make sure I’m not hurt. That happened also when Heath smacked me.” “Well,” she replied, looking kind of pretty with a bright smile full of hope, “this must mean that he likes you very much and he cares about you so much, he’s willing to protect you and get hurt instead of you.” As she spoke, vivid memories returned to those days when we first dated, and those memories were like the ones that were clear in the center but blurry around the edges. Our first date: when I got really scared of fangs popping up so suddenly in a horror film, I dumped soda on him. We went outside of the theater for it dry, trying to make conversation, but blushed at each other when we looked at each other. When we went to the park at night, and climbed my favorite olive tree, looking up and gazing at the stars through an opening of the branches, with a full moon. When we glanced at each other while singing “Kiss from a Rose” and blushed, beautiful, romantic memories. Then Angelica suggested the most outrageous thing: “Why don’t you date him again?” I almost burst with anger and was very close to yelling out no. but while I was cooling down, I thought about it, and it came to me. If I were to get back with him, I thought carefully, all that’s happened between us will go back into the midst of the past. So I put my head down, and angelica asked me, “What’s wrong?” I looked up, with a big, bright smile, just like hers, and replied happily, “I’ll date him again.”
Chapter 13: Oh No, My Chick!
My Darling Clementine, a song I always sang to my pet chickette, Clementine. I got her a while after my reunion with Angelica. We both went to a swap meet to buy something we liked with our $20. She bought a pretty angora t-shirt, but I just had to buy a chick, who reminded me of my old pet, Pollito, the day I got him on Thanksgiving Day. Clementine and I immediately loved each other when we first saw each other. How would I know? She didn’t look at anyone else when I saw and when I decided to buy her, she jumped eagerly into my palms. Ever since that day, I’ve loved her a lot. Sometimes, because I’m nice, I let my sister play with her when she asked— nicely, though. News spread fast around school about my new chick, Clementine. I always feared this, for people will come to my house; flood the house, just to get a glimpse of my new chick. For school people, it wasn’t normal to have a chicken as a pet. That was more for farms, but I didn’t care. I loved Clementine with all my heart. The only problem was: Andrew.
I knew he wanted to seek revenge because I didn’t want to get with him, and he acted like no one was his friend, like everyone resented him when he decided revenge was sweet. Something was going to happen to Clementine, because of him. I worried too much like, What if he cuts off her wings? What if he gives her away? What if- until I put it off as my crazy imagination. I told Katherine of my phobia, and that put her into frenzy similar to mine. The What If’s started shooting out of her mouth quickly, but I told her it’ll be ok. It was kind of ironic how she was worrying and I was calming her instead of the other way around. But, surprisingly, no matter how much we worried, we never considered kidnapping.
Andrew kidnapped Clementine after a lovely 6 months with her. I was horrified and grief. I knew it was him, all along, but I couldn’t tell police accuse him of anything for stealing my pet until he did something extreme with my poor little Clementine. As I thought about it, I was called to the Prince’s office. This surprised me a lot, as I walked down the hall. When I finally got there, the secretary looked confused. “You’re Natalie Romo,” she asked. “No…..” I replied, wondering if she was that dumb not to listen to the announcement. I was then sent back to my class. But a voice called out, “Come to the locker rooms…….” It was so Andrew, with his raspy, scratchy whispering voice. So I just went to the locker rooms, going to my locker to get a mini bat and a dragon steel bookmark to defend myself, then followed his voice. I gaped and stared and what he held in his hand, the little carcass of my beloved Clementine. “So,” he began slyly, with a smug grin and evil glint in his beady eyes, “what will it be, Johanna?”
Chapter 14: The Moment
I finally pressed charges against Andrew, and they took me seriously this time. They said he would have to go to juvy for half a year. I loved Clementine so much, I actually talked my parents into a making a funeral that cost a little over $15. For some reason, my parents invited the Montano’s, and Robert came along. After the burial, I asked to stay alone with Clementine, but obviously, Robert didn’t get the message, and came over to pay his respects, too. I stared and the tombstone, big fat tears rolling down my sorrow face, and falling like soft petals over the grave. “I’m very sorry, you know,” he began, “and I can feel your pain, losing someone you held dear…..” I knew very much what he had meant, and was going to snap, but then I remembered Angelica’s voice the day she came………. “Why don’t you date him again?” “I’ll date him again,” I had replied, with a smile. So as I thought, I slowly formed my words to him. I got up and asked for a walk. He replied willingly. “I was wondering if…….you….wanted to get back with me, Robert. It’ll be ok if you don’t, but I’m just saying…….,” I said. Then I finally noticed he stopped walking and was several feet away from me. “Robert?” I called out, and suddenly, I was picked up and hugged tight, twirled around gently. “What are you so happy about, Robert,” I exclaimed when he let me down, with a happy voice. “Thank you so much, Johanna,” he exclaimed as well, “I’ve waited what seemed like an eternity for you to forgive me.” “Really, wow, that’s……..unexpected,” I said trying to act nonchalantly, but I couldn’t hide my surprise. I finally got to have Robert back, and Andrew was gone for half a year. I once again asked to be alone with my chick, and Robert said yes. As I kneeled in front of the grave, I thanked my chick for being my angel of opportunity and hope and giving me this chance to be happy once again.
Chapter 15: White Rose
I could not believe it! My life was finally free of horrifying things, and back to normal, heaven normal. Robert and I started dating again, ever since we talked at the funeral. News reached the school quick like a hummingbird’s heart beat. My friends were happy for me, and so was I. when we dated again once more, we went the park and climbed my favorite olive tree. He started singing “Sweet Child O’ Mine”, a song that he always sang before, too, to remind himself of me constantly. I blushed so much, my face resembled the color of a tomato, but it was so romantic. But when I turned around to adjust myself more comfortably, I saw Andrew. His stare was cold, and he had betrayal written all over his face, with an ugly scowl. I gasped, froze, but froze over an opening between to branches. SNAP! THUD! “Oh my god, are you ok,” shouted Robert when I found myself on the ground. I must have dropped a few feet, but it hurt a lot, especially in my ribs. “Huh? Oh, yeah, I’m ok. Why,” I mumbled a little, not even realizing I fell until the pain in my rib. “Oh wait, that hurts,” I said, and fell back on the ground. When I finally got up and could stand, which took a minute and a few seconds, I looked back to where I saw Andrew, but he wasn’t there. It was as if he was just my imagination, and dearly prayed it was, or he would plan something outrageous to get back at me for not getting with him. We began walking around, to shake off the pain, and it helped. We didn’t try talking, or we would say something stupid, I could tell. As we walked, he started to talk.
“I wanted to give you this rose.”
I thought it was going to be a regular red rose, which everyone mistook as the rose for love. Well, I guess it’ll be a pretty red r—, I thought, but stopped when I saw the color or the soft petals of the rose. It was white, the true color of love. I tried to say something, but I couldn’t say a word. My mouth was just a long oval, frozen in surprise and dazed. “Oh, Robert………wow,” was all I could say. My brain tried to say something else, a sentence, a phrase, a word, anything, but like I said, I froze. “Hello? Johanna? Are you even breathing,” Robert said, sounding worried. I let out a whoosh of breath, wondering if I did breathe at all. “Yeah, I’m breathing, but….,” I replied softly, still staring at the color. “Then what’s wrong? You don’t like the color,” he asked. “Robert……what does this color mean,” I inquired; I had to find out if he just picked it or really meant the meaning. “It means love, doesn’t it?” “Yeah, it does, but how did—why did you—,” I tried to ask, wondering if it was really real, if he really liked me, or loved me. I came over the shock after a few seconds, and then decided we walked home. We started walking, strolling down the walk, when we heard a weird whistle. “What was that,” we both asked at the same time, and then I blacked out.
Chapter 16: Mistrust
“Wha….oh, ow……wha-what happened,” I said groggily, and tried to get up, but stumbled around and fell back. “Sh, sh, sh……It’s all right, don’t worry. You’re ok….for now,” I heard in the darkness, and then felt my head being stroked gently. “Who the hell is stroking…,” I began when I could see straight, then turned around to see Andrew, with an evil smirk and guilty-but-content face. “Andrew?! Where— where am I? Where am I?! Andrew, where’s Robert,” I shouted, looking all over my surroundings. It was an empty loft room, but the door was locked, and there was a window big enough for me to get out, but too high for me too reach by a few feet. Andrew meanwhile just watched me go around in circles, confused and scared. “WHERE AM I, ANDREW? TELL ME,” I screamed louder, hoping someone could hear me from the window. “Don’t freak out, gosh, it’s not like we’re going to kill you……….yet,” he said casually, talking hard and cold in the end. “What? Who are we? What do you mean by we’re not going to kill me yet?” “Oh, Johanna, acting so innocent and confused for everything,” he taunted, and then began his story of revenge as he called it. “You know, Johanna, none of this would’ve happened if only you got with me. I wouldn’t have done bad things to you, killed your chick, and agree to kill you if your father doesn’t pay the ransom he’ll be threatened to, all if you had gotten with me,” he finished with a smile. My face was wearing a mask mixed with confusion and anger, because it was the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of as an excuse for me to get with him. “Are you really serious, Andrew,” I asked quietly, then my voice started to grow, and as it grew, it seemed for a moment that he was the hostage instead of me with his scared face. “Eres tonto o te ases?” I asked in Spanish, which meant, “Are you really that stupid or are you playing around?” “Do you really think that just because I wouldn’t get with you, it’s a good excuse to kidnap me?! Do you?!” “Um, n-no, but……that’s not the only reason,” he responded, trying to act tough. “You’re father’s a politician, right? So he has a lot of money, money he doesn’t deserve. So to get that same money that we deserve, we have to do it the hard way, kidnapping his daughter. Peter has already tracked you since the night you were at the stadium singing, and we wouldn’t have been through all this trouble to get to you if it wasn’t for…..ugh, Robert.” It all made sense to me now; the fire, Andrew, that mysterious man at the stadium right before the fire, and why he vanished. Peter, my kidnapper, the one who made the fire, would’ve gotten me if it wasn’t for Robert…….I gasped. No wonder Robert thought I was trying to hurt myself, he knew something about Peter, and that’s why he hit me, and then realized it was really me. The fire was started by Peter, without Andrew knowing. Then when I didn’t want to get with him, he agreed to kidnap me. “It’s kind of sad right now, you’re going to have a painful death,” he said as I thought about this. “What? What are you talking about,” I replied, weary and scared. As he went to the door, and just before he locked it and left, he said cold and sweetly, “Well, it is a gas chamber, isn’t it?”
Chapter 17: Cyanide Gas
“Oh, no, damn!” I yelled as I saw the gas coming in. It was cyanide gas, the one they used for gas chambers. I’ve read about it, and the article horrified me so much, I couldn’t sleep until my dad comforted me but told me it’s what they do. “I hate that they still use it and haven’t banned it yet. It’s just so…..cruel,” he told me as he held me in his arms. I wished with all my heart he would come, so I could be back in the safety in his arms as he comforted me. “DADDY! DADDY, HELP!” I screamed while the gas twirled around me. I started to cry so hard, I couldn’t help it. Then I began vomiting, as the article said you would when you inhaled the toxic gas. As I did, I heard a yell of anguish and torture, it sounded like Andrew. A key flew from the bottom of the door through the slim opening and hit my knees. Without a second to think, I grabbed the key and pushed into the keyhole. It fit, and I twisted the lock, and freed myself. Coughing and vomiting my last, I looked around, trying to look for Robert, knowing they’re doing the same thing to him as they did to me. I looked across from my room, and through the clear glass room, I saw Robert dying, vomiting, his face twisted as he tried so hard not to inhale the toxic gas. I pushed the key. It fit, and I twisted the lock, finding Robert on the floor. “Robert!” I yelled, shaking him as I did. “Wake up! Don’t die, don’t die, don’t die, Robert, wake up, wake up…..” I yelled, but my voice faded when I thought it was too late. I broke down and cried, cried, cried. My tears, an ever flowing stream of sadness, just crying……… All of a sudden, “What…What happened right now….?” “Robert!” I yelled out, “You’re alive! Hurry let’s get out of this place!” “Wait, what’s happened? Are you okay? You smell like vomit,” he said. I quickly explained all that happened and what I did just now. His face was full of concern and shame. “I should’ve known! And now he’s doing this!” he yelled out. I knew he was speaking of Peter, but probably didn’t know about the ransom and kidnapping plans until now. “Come on, let’s go,” he finally said after long moments of silence. Finally, I said, relieved. We ran out of the room and looked around the loft for an exit. The only exit near us was a door, a door that was locked when we tried it. The windows were too high for us to climb and get out, and no piece of furniture that we could’ve used as a boost was in sight. So we explored each room to check if there was a chair or something. But to no avail did we find anything. The last room we were about to explore was far down the right of the hall. We looked in cautiously, since we could see nothing but darkness inside. “Something stinks in here, Robert,” I whispered. “Yeah, probably it’s a bathroom,” he replied, “with a stool if we’re lucky. Let’s see if we can find a light switch around here…..” when his hand felt a switch, he flipped it. The white-blue skin of the rotting corpse was Andrew’s, vomit around him. His face, his horrible face, was distorted, like someone tried to switch it around. “What have we here,” a voice said behind us, it’s cold, gruff, and sweet voice freezing us in place, “oh, did you two come to see your little friend? Well, he’s been dying to meet you guys.”
Chapter 18: Peter
“Peter!” We both yelled out. “Oh,” he said with a sinister grin, “you must know me. Well, let me get you comfortable here.” He did look a lot like Eugenio, almost as if he was a twin of his. I couldn’t believe the resemblance, it surprised me much. He was skinny, too, but he wasn’t weak as I thought he was. He tied us up to chairs, coming from a hidden closet we overlooked. “So, what brings you people here? Oh, look at you,” he told me as he stroked my face, I tried to push him away, “so young, and at such an age you’re going to die. And let me guess, this one here tried to save you, acting like a little hero, isn’t he? Andrew here tried being a villain and a hero, but, look at what happened to him,” his head gestured toward Andrew’s body. “Well, enough chit-chatting. Let’s get to work,” he said as he rose swiftly, going toward the closet once more. He took out a small package with red bars, it seemed. “Do you know what this is, Johanna,” he asked me. I kicked him away, not knowing what it was and not wanting to respond. “Don’t be kicking me, sweetheart. You probably already know that dynamite comes in small packages.” So it was dynamite, it was what he was going to use to kill both of us if the ransom was not brought. “You little lady are a handful to get to, and you can manipulate people as well. This boy loves you so much, he tried to save you, and Andrew, well, he yelled saying he couldn’t bear the fact that you were going to die by the gas, and slid the key under your door. I then found him in this room with a cell phone. ‘You better not are calling the police,’ I told him. ‘No, I’m not,’ he replied, but guilty, he added, ‘I’m just pl-playing games.’ He betrayed me, I knew it, and called someone for help, but I couldn’t figure out whom. I warned him if he didn’t tell me, he would die. That little punk said no, so you know what I did,” he told us, pausing like a teacher asking its student what the answer was. “You gassed him,” I whispered horrified. “I gassed him,” he replied, happy with his answer. It made sense what Peter just told us, but it was too late to run. “Now, let me set this time bomb to 25 minutes so you guys could have a chance to escape, but not get very far,” he added, and set the bomb. “Why don’t you guys get some shut-eye, anyway? It’s very late, you know,” his last words were to us, before he left. Robert and I struggled so much for the first minute, trying to break the bonds. It was no use. I began crying, but slowed to sobbing, because it was no use to cry if it wasn’t going to help. “Don’t cry,” Robert assured me, but his voice was quivering as well, “We’ll be alright, you’ll see.” The bomb read 6 minutes passed. We sat for a while, loosening our tied hands from the rope a few inches more every passing minute. By the time Robert got his off, it was 20 minutes up already. “Come on, Johanna, let’s go,” he told me when we both broke free. Again, we looked for an exit, but only found the windows high above us. An automatic voice started counting down and was already saying 22 minutes. We used the chairs to boost us to the window farthest away from the bomb’s room. 24 minutes. “Hurry,” Robert told me while he was going through the window. I heard then the voice of the police and my father’s cry, “Johanna! Where are you?!”. “Daddy,” I screamed out in relief when Robert was about to drop from the window onto the ground below.
Chapter 19: Fire Once More
“Robert!” I yelled out loud. Somehow, in the bomb, we got sucked back in the building just as we were going to escape. Robert and me were pulled back inside and buried under the wood and rubble. I got free but couldn’t find him, and a fire started, once again. “Robert!” I called once more, and……I gave up. Where are you, Robert?, I thought as I looked around the building. It was going to give way any moment now, and every passing minute, it was a miracle it didn’t, but also a danger, meaning I had less time. I stumbled around without care, not caring if I died without Robert. I didn’t want to leave him, it was all a big mistake to do what I did, and now we were here, somewhere. A death already occurred in my account, and another one could, if I wasn’t fast enough. I walked toward a corner where the fire hadn’t reached it. I looked around, again hoping for nothing but a glimpse of him. Nothing. I cried, just cried, not knowing if in the bomb, my dad got sucked in and killed, along with others. My throat, it hurt so much, it just burned like it was dry but it wasn’t, it was filled with the sorrowful tears caught in my mouth. Not knowing if Robert is dying or living or already dead. It was just too horrible, too much to bear……the tears flowed non-stop, my mind and my eyes flashing scenes of my life in the times when I was happy before me. The night under the stars in the tree, Katherine winning 500 dollars, when she was getting out of her mother’s reach and torture, the drawing, the stare in the stadium. Usually, when you about to die, these things happened, so I knew I was going to die, finally an end to my suffering, emotionally, physically. I dropped to the ground, with shattered pieces of glass and splintery wood. My hands burned and stung at the touch of the ground while it bled. I lie down and spread my hands out, kind of like a cross. It was then when I felt him, his hand, so callused, wet and sticky with half-dried blood. “Robert,” I yelled out, this time in relief. I tugged, moved, heaved away what seemed like tons of wood, and there was his upper torso, arms, neck, and face. I held his face in my hands, surprisingly not staining him with my bloodied hands. “Robert, speak to me, please talk. Say something, or give me a sign that you’re alive. Robert, speak, speak to me,” I pleaded. His hands were growing cold. I removed the rest of all the wood keeping him trapped. He became warm again; his blood wasn’t circulating, that’s why. He began moving a little, and then finally could talk. “Johanna? What….oh, damn, my body hurts……are we outside or inside? All I remember is getting sucked in. Then you were buried and I was blown away,” he said. I nodded, but assured him everything was ok for now. “Robert, don’t worry. The cops were here right before the explosion and they should be outside right now with my dad calling ambulances. So let’s just get up,” I told him, trying to help him up, “and look for an open exit. Maybe we’ll ge---“. I looked at his ribs, and right between them, was a chunk of wood wedged right in it. Little blood seeped out, but if it were to be removed, he would die.
Chapter 20: The First and Last Time
“Robert…..look,” I said when I stopped to stare at his injury, also pointing to it. He followed my finger, and almost fell at the sight. “Can we look for an ambulance car outside right now,” he asked me, with a strained look on his face when he felt the pain. “Sure,” I responded, “let’s go find an exit. But hurry, the building will come crashing down.” We found an exit, and it wasn’t too far away, just the length of circling our entire school, not much. We were half-way when he collapsed. “I can’t go much farther, Johanna. I need to lie down for a second….” He yawned and looked pained after that. He suddenly started closing his eyes, like when people start losing consciousness. “Robert?” I asked him. He didn’t answer. “Robert?!” I said more loudly. He woke up a bit, noticing my tears. He didn’t have much time, and would die right here. “What’s wrong? Don’t cry, sweet, don’t cry. I’ll be alright, I just need to rest,” he said, trying to assure that his death wasn’t all important. It is important, Robert, I thought sadly, excruciatingly pained to see him and not do anything. “Robert, you can’t die. Do you know how much you mean to me?” I asked him. His face softened, and I told him, “If you die, I’ll suffer until the end of my days, ok? Don’t die on me, please. Just……..please.” I swooped down swiftly and gracefully so as not to hurt him and gave him a kiss, on the cheek. He started blushing a little. I smiled at him and gave one quick peck again, then a gentle hug. We stayed there for a few minutes as he slipped away. I put one hand into a pocket I never noticed there. I was wearing my jacket, and in the pocket was the white rose he gave me, still beautiful as the way I saw it. I showed it to him, and he looked surprised to see it again. We heard voices, shouts, and then relieved yells. “They’re over here,” we heard. It was the ambulance doctors and the firefighters. Finally, Robert, you’ll live, I rejoiced. I was taken to my dad, who on sight hugged me almost to an inch of my life with relief. “I thought you died, Johanna, I thought were hurt,” he told me, and then assured me we caught Peter. “He was planning this for a while now. He tried to get to Natalie, but that clever little girl always was out of reach. I’m just glad you’re ok,” he told me. “What about Robert, Papi? Where is he? Is he safe, will he be alright?” I asked quickly and stuttering over my words. I was too worried for him. “He’ll be fine because he’s got the medical attention he needs. If you want to, you can visit,” he began, but I interrupted him, “Yes, please, please, let me see him.” “Ok, let’s go,” he replied with a mischievous smile.
Chapter 21: Amor Real (True Love)
Robert survived thankfully the operation to take out the wedge of wood. I prayed day and night for a week when he was finally released. Those days were the hardest to follow. Since the entire trauma when we were kidnapped, we couldn’t really handle it much, and visited the school psychologist together at the same time once every school week to get over it. Robert cleared up faster about it than I did, and he was let go. Yet, every time I needed to go, he would excuse himself to the bathroom for at least 15 minutes to keep an eye on me, and I could tell. He would pass the office every 3 minutes so no one would get suspicious. After 3 months, I was let go also. Robert and I never separated since then, only to go to our only separate classes, me, W.W.H. and him, Italian Language Class, our last period. Surprisingly, no one noticed that we never separated, except Katherine. “You’re very obsessed, aren’t you, Joey?” She asked me tauntingly “Nuh-uh, Kathy, I’m just very…..” I tried to finish, trying to find the right word that meant in love but not aloud and also protective and scared, but no avail, so I went with, “…….protective.” “Yeah, right, I‘ll believe that story,” she replied, but with a mischievous smile.
We walked toward the park once more, already a year passed since the last time we came here. But instead of going to our tree, we went straight to the little kids’ playground with the castle big enough for us to stand in without bending our heads. It was pretty high, probably 10 feet from the ground or more. I looked out the window, with a book in my hand, intending to read it there. He brought a paper and pencil with him, and together, we did a game played in Jalisco, Mexico, “Amor Real”, which meant “true love” in Spanish. What we did was write the letters Amor Real vertically and then with our names, Johanna Sophia Laurent, and Robert Jesus Montamo, look for the letters a, m, o, r, r, e, a, and l. once finding the letters, you put them together to make the percentage instead of adding them. When we did that, we got, “1411%! Are you serious Robert,” I told him, “Did you do the math right?” “Yes, I did. You know, that’s pretty good,” he replied, smiling at me and inching at me closer. We were already 16 and together once more. I started blushing a little. We were boy and girl, as it has always been, but sometimes I forget we are nothing but friends, best friends. We stood up, and tired to hide my blush by pretending to read. He just stared at me and looked like he was deciding something. Then somehow, I suddenly noticed that we walked toward a corner and were facing each other like we were stuck in the corner. I realized we were; there was a door that had a hidden chamber big enough for one person to lie down and stretch and hide as well. But we were two people, and we accidentally walked into it. Unfortunately, the way he was facing, he blocked any chance of getting free, so we were stuck. “Oh, what the…” he said looking around for an exit. As he said that, I noticed he grew taller than I did, about 5 inches. We tried to push our way out, but we were afraid we’ll break the door. So we stayed the way we were. Oh my god, I’m facing him and I’m really, too close!, I thought, my breathing becoming a little uneven and my face blushing a red tomato. He must have been thinking the same thing, because he began blushing the same color of my face. I tried making conversation to make this easier for us, but instead, said something that was on my mind. “What are we going to do,” I muttered, “he’s right against me and we’re a boy and girl…..” I finished, then realizing too late of what I said. He heard every word. “Um…..” he tried saying something, too, but said something incredible. “I wish I could try to kiss, now that we’re mashed up together…” he mumbled very low, but I heard it barely. It began ringing in my head, wish I could try to kiss, wish I could try to kiss. I stood gaping at him. He realized too late like me of what he said. “Oh! Oh, um, you know, I— I was just joking, heh heh…” he faded off, blushing so hard; I thought he was holding his breath and trying to explode his veins. Without even thinking, I put my arms in a circle around his neck, reaching with half of my tiptoes, so it didn’t hurt. He in return, again without thinking and I knew, because his eyes widened as he did, put his arms in a circle around my waist pulling me closer. “It’s okay,” I comforted him, “about what you just said. It just…..slipped, right?” “Yeah,” he answered nervously and laughed nervously too; so did I. “So,” he said, attempting to make conversation again, “what are we…going to …do?” In response, I reached up going on my full tiptoes, and he was already bending down with his lips going toward mine. We kissed perfectly, like we rehearsed this and waited for the perfect time to try it for real. I indulged myself and felt relaxed and comforted, while he went gently and almost urgently, but softly. We just kept on and on, until the door swung open by it and made us fall backward, me on top of him. “Oh, ow,” we both groaned, and then noticed our positions. We jumped off quickly, me apologizing for landing on him. “I’m so sorry that I landed on you.” “Its okay, don’t, err, worry,” he replied shyly. It grew way too dark and quiet, but the stars shown bright. “You know,” he told me, “your eyes shine like the stars, except even brighter. And you’re like a constellation, no, wait, you should be one,” he said stumbling over his words, smiled sheepishly and quieted. “So you think I’m a constellation,” I mused, happy, “and what am I called,” I asked. “Let’s see, what is the most beautiful, inside and out, brave, loving, caring constellation in the heavens,” he asked. “The Virtuous Angel of Life,” I answered, remembering our lecture on the Indian legends of a woman who fit that description. “Exactly,” he finished. One long kiss finished the question as we gazed at the stars, both of us looking for the constellation of the Virtuous Angel of Life, and finally finding it.