Those who know me would know that love stories and I have never gone too well together. As such, when I was assigned to write a piece for Valentine’s Day, this was what I could come up with. Jia Huey said it was too morbid for a Valentine’s Day article but this is the only way I know how to go about romance, so this is how it will be =) It is also too short for my liking – it didn’t give me sufficient time to expand the characters – but seeing as how I had a word limit to abide by, this is the best I could do. Enjoy!
My gut feeling told me all that I needed to know before I even had to pick up the phone. Just as I had foreseen, my best friend Kaylie’s voice floated to my ears the moment I held the receiver close to the side of my face. Before I even needed to say ‘Hello’, Kaylie uttered the words I have heard just too many a time:
“Lena, I need your help.”
Kaylie’s room was as it had always been – so messy it was a wonder she’s ever managed to find anything at all amidst the piles of clothes at the foot of her bed and tower of books stacked so precariously on her table they were on the verge of toppling over. The girl herself was in the act of digging through her wardrobe when I walked into her jungle of a bedroom. When she looked up at me with the all-too-familiar fluttered expression on her face, hair askew and panic flashing vividly in her eyes, a single thought broke into my mind: Luke.
As if on cue, she bounded over to me. “God, I don’t know what to wear!” The whine of exasperation in her voice was impossible to miss.
I touched her arm and gave her the most indifferent look I could mustre without looking like I was patronizing her. “But you know he’s always thought you looked beautiful in anything.”
Kaylie had been going out with Luke for almost two years now but as happens without fail each time they’re due to meet one another, she’d undergo this unexplainable panic attack over what to wear. It wasn’t as if she had anything to worry about; she was one of the prettiest girls in school with a personality just as compelling and dynamic to match. Anyone who had seen Luke and she together could tell he was head over heels in love with her, and she him. In a way, I have the nagging feeling that maybe that was what exactly what the problem was: they were too in love with one another – if at all something like that was even possible.
For sixteen-year-olds, they loved each other with a passion so undying you only see in that of adults. I, as her best friend, knew this was no longer mere puppy love. Kaylie had serial dated before she met Luke and the fact that she had stuck with him for two years considering her previous dating record was proof enough that this time, she really loved the guy.
“But this time it’s different!” Tears were dangerously welling up in Kaylie’s eyes as she spoke. “You don’t get it: I really like this skirt to go with that blouse, but it’s all of the wrong colour and this top – it’s just too… well, wrong!”
Fearing for the worst, I quickly scanned the room for something to save the day.
My eyes came upon the blue dress I knew for myself Luke had picked out specially for Kaylie last Christmas – the dress she had shoved to the very back of her wardrobe as if the mere sight of it pained her to end.
“What about that one?”
Kaylie turned, and when she saw which dress it was I meant, chewed her lower lip in deep contemplation. “Are you sure?”
I knew exactly what it was she was asking. But despite the dresscode culture and tradition had set for us to abide by as means of respect, I really didn’t see why not.
“All I want is to look nice for him,” Kaylie murmured, more to herself than to me, sounding really doubtful. But the quiescent way in which she said it told me that she had made up her mind.
“Quick,” I said, smiling. “Get changed – I’ll send you there.”
The girls all dressed in black loitering outside the front door clicked their tongues when we walked up to the cold gray granite building. Kaylie tugged uncomfortably at the sleeves of her dress at their disapproving stares and took to staring at the ground. I could tell it was taking her great efforts to simply put one leg in front of the other while shuffling her way into the building, all the while looking at nothing but her feet. I protectively slung one arm around her shoulders and gave it a small squeeze.
“Hey, don’t worry about them. You look great.” I gave her the biggest smile of reassurance I could mustre.
She merely smiled feebly back in return.
At the door, we paused. Stealing glances at my best friend, I could not help but see just how much she was shaking – out of trepidation, out of pain, out of fear. I could not help but also worry; worry over the fact that she had not cried a single tear since receiving the news. I did not know if she was trying to be brave, the part of her Luke had always told her he loved most, or simply because she was still in denial. Whatever it was, I knew that her having not cried was every reason in the world for me to worry about how she was coping after the incident.
“Ready?” I asked.
Kaylie looked up at me with her wide doe-like eyes, as if for strength.
“You can do this,” I told her.
Fingering the delicate lace rested upon the blue chiffon of the dress she loved so much, given to her by the one person she loved more than anything and anyone else in the world, she took a deep breath and nodded. Taking my hand, she pushed open the door to the church and strode in, with her head held high, into Luke, her one true love’s funeral.
Walking in with her to the last time she’ll ever see Luke, it gave me an odd moment of serenity to see the tears spilling down her cheeks – the first tears she’s ever cried for Luke in the two years they have known one another.
If anything at all was proof enough of her love for him, it would be this: her insistence on looking her best for him, even at his funeral, just as she had on their very first date.