(A short story by Katastrophicity)
She glanced through the glass window to see if he’s already there. She called him up early this morning to meet her at the coffee shop that afternoon to tell him something. Something that she couldn’t keep anymore. Something that she’d been keeping all through the years. Was he nervous? Of course he was. She heard it in his voice when he told her ‘I love you’. She said it back, but she was not sure if he believed it.
When she entered, she immediately saw him at the table outside by the garden. He picked the place she would have picked. She smiled to herself. She went to him. He hasn’t seen her yet. But when he looked up and met her gaze, her heartbeat jumped and started to quicken. She discreetly took a deep breath and almost forced herself to smile reassuringly; reassuring him that everything’s okay, that he has nothing to worry about. But she was not sure about all of it now. She wondered for a second if she could really tell him.
She thought about their years together. She thought about how it could end in a snap after she tells him. Their friendship could be over.
“Sel.” Said he, as he smiled when she sat in front of him.
He already ordered a cup of coffee, black, his favorite. She smiled nervously. But she’s trying to not let him show it. She could see it in his eyes that he’s already thinking about something. He’s already thinking about what she could possibly tell him that she wanted to meet up right away. She could see his mind running. She could see it in his clear blue eyes.
“How are you? I haven’t seen you in three months after our high school reunion.” He said.
“I know. I…I was busy at the store. Summer’s coming up so I had to deal with the orders for summer wears and stuff…you shouldn’t hear about all of it. It’s a bore.” She chuckled.
“Well, I’m just glad that your store is finally getting well known all over the city.” He said as he nodded.
“Me too. So…uhm. What are you been up to?” She asked.
“Same old stuff. Learning everything about our family business.”
“So you’re really doing that? I thought…”
“Yes. I can do nothing about it. I’m the only heir.”
She can hear the bitterness in his voice. She’d known him long enough to know and notice everything about him without him telling her. They’d been best friends since they were six. And she also knows that it’s not taking over their family riches that he wants to do in his life.
She remembered three months ago when they went together to their high school reunion. Seven years after high school, a lot has changed. Some got married and had kids already, some were with their fiancés and then there’s Selene and Sebastian who still seemed inseparable and even went to their high school reunion together as if nothing eve changed. Nothing, yet, but change will happen like a thunder hitting a person in the middle of nowhere. It will happen that night.
Selene, with her slim figure, she wore a blue dress that flows carelessly and gracefully at the same time, down to her ankle. And a black velvet pumps that made her look so much taller than she already was. Sebastian beside her looked dashing in a midnight blue suit, black leather shoes and his elegant white slim tie. Others would have thought that they planned to have a matching outfit, but they didn’t. Sebastian, when he went over Selene’s apartment to get her, was surprised when he saw her in a blue dress. Selene looked at him and immediately knew what he was thinking. They just laughed about it and affirmed on how much of a best friend they really are to each other.
They picked a table where Sebastian’s old football team sat with their dates. Mostly were their wives. Two were now professional football players and are famous in the country.
“So you two finally got together eh?” Brian said as he put his arms around his wife carefully. His wife was leaning her head on his shoulder.
“No. We’re not together.” Selene said as she and Sebastian looked at each other as they stifled as laugh. Everybody assumed that, they both thought. But they’re best friends.
“WHAT. After all these years you’re still ‘bestfriends’? c’mon.” Luke, who was a few chairs away from them said as he let his hand fall on the table.
“Why are you forcing this, guys? It’s not what you think it is.” Sebastian said after he took a sip of red wine.
“What we have has been platonic and it will always be platonic, right Seb?” Selene said as she elbowed Sebastian lightly.
“So quit it. All of you.” Sebastian pointed at Brian and Luke playfully.
Brian put his palms up like surrendering. “Alright. Whatever you say.”
The night went on fast. There were tribute videos played. Some cried. Sebastian and Selene laughed secretly at them. They loved it. Just like the good old days before they got in the real world when they went to college in the city. Selene went to a fashion design institute while Sebastian into another university where he studied Business.
They managed to see each other once a week since their schools weren’t that far from each other. Just fifteen minutes away. Selene’s apartment that time was just near her school while Sebastian’s got, of course, his own condominium unit at one of the most expensive neighborhood in the city. Sebastian invited Selene to stay with him but Selene refused. She said that she must learn to stand on her own, which Sebastian respected. But he was always there when Selene needed help.
They were also in each other’s lives when they had relationships. Selene was the one who always got her heart broken because as what Sebastian told her, she’s easily attached to people and that she trusts people so easily. But then he told her that that’s one thing he envies about her, that she always sees the good side of people. While Sebastian, raised in a family where his parents weren’t around much because of their business and traveling around the world, never learned to trust anyone but Selene. He saw how people took advantage of his father and of him just to get them on their good side to take advantage of them. Sebastian felt that it’s only Selene who never cared about how rich he is. She saw him as him and not as Sebastian the heir to Thorpe Corporation.
At the end of the night, a song was played. The master of ceremonies said, “Alas, it is a great joy that the past and the present have come together tonight. This night may not last longer than we wish it to be, but may this night be one of the nights that we’ll never forget and would be looking forward to recreate as we journey on our own lives after high school. May this last song be of a reminder that we may not be eighteen anymore, but we will always be eighteen in our hearts. Have a good night everyone!”
As he walked off the stage, a band came out and a spotlight was on them. Selene felt her heart jumped and stopped and then started beating so quickly that she felt blood rushing to her face. Her eyes widened as the guitar started to be played. She felt Sebastian’s hand beside her. And then the drums. She knew those faces. She had been their fan ever since and now they’re in front of her. She couldn’t believe if that was real. Maybe she was dreaming. Sebastian pulled her up and led her to the center where everybody else started to slow dance. She couldn’t take her eyes off the stage. Sebastian guided her hand on his shoulder and then slid his hand into hers and started to sway side to side as they started singing.
Sebastian pulled her close and whispered into her ear. “I can see that you’re surprised. It makes all my efforts worth it.”
Selene looked at him. “What do you mean? You made this possible?”
Sebastian smiled, almost smugly. “It was hard to get the booking but you know I’ve got connections.”
“I can’t believe this. Lady Antebellum in our high school reunion. This is bizarre.” Selene said almost breathless.
“I remembered how much you wanted Lady Antebellum at our prom before. And now that I could do something about it, why not grant your wish.”
“Wow. You remember that. Thank you, Seb. Thank you.”
“No problem. I’d do anything for you Sel.” He said as he pulled her closer to him. The song’s chorus was coming.
“You know, this is why they think we have something more than friendship. Normal friends don’t do this to each other.” She said a matter-of-factly.
“But we’re not normal friends, Sel.” Sebastian answered.
You have no idea how much you’ve done for me. And this is just a small way to repay for the some of it. Sebastian thought.
They swayed slowly and in synced, like they were merged into one. Maybe they are. Maybe Selene and Sebastian are one soul, but haven’t just figured it out yet. Sebastian knew that this song was one of Selene’s favorite songs of Lady Antebellum and he requested personally that they’d play this song at their reunion. He also got Selene a collection of their albums with their signatures on it. He knew how Selene would be so psyched out when he would give it to her on her birthday five months from now. He felt her so close to him and he wished that the song wouldn’t end in three minutes. He wished it he could be with her longer.
I haven’t seen you in ages. Sometimes I find myself wondering where you are. For me you’ll always be eighteen and beautiful and dancing away with my heart.
“I’ve ordered for you.” Sebastian said as the waiter arrived with an iced latte with whipped cream on top. Just what Selene would have wanted it.
“Thanks.” She said and then she took a sip.
“So,” Sebastian hesitated. “What was it you wanted to tell me?”
“Oh, uhm.” Selene started to brace herself.
What she’s about to say requires from her a lot of courage. This is a leap of faith. And whatever happens after this, she would accept it either way.
“What is it? Is something wrong?” Sebastian reached for her hand. Selene let him.
“No. Nothing’s wrong. I…I just…The last three months, I’ve been thinking…” She started and then paused as she looked at Sebastian as if waiting for his permission for her to continue.
“I’ve been thinking about….you.”
She felt adrenaline take over her and perhaps didn’t even hear what Sebastian said, who was somehow surprised.
“I am precariously in love with you, Sebastian. At first I thought that it’s nothing. But it’s not Nothing. I kept on denying it to myself. But you see, it’s everything from the beginning. I’ve always been in love with you. It’s not just a best friend thing kind of love what I feel for you. When you danced with me at prom, you were the only one I’ve only thought about dancing with. And when I had all those bad relationships, I kept on coming back to you. And I will keep on coming back to you, Sebastian. You must have not known how much you affect me. You do not know how much my life would suck if you’re not in it. And when you got Lady Antebellum to play at our high school reunion…that was…and when we danced, it felt like I’m with you and only you and not with everybody else who were dancing in the same room as we did. I am in love with you in the most innocent way. I crave for your presence. And even when we would just sit side by side, without any physical contact and would just talk and talk endlessly, that would be enough.” She paused and just looked into Sebastian’s eyes as if she was looking for something. “I have…said what’s purely in my heart. And I’m glad. Now, tell me. Do you not feel the same?” She said it in almost a whisper, like she was in pain.
She was scared of his answer. She was scared that he would say no. She was scared that by what she did, everything between them would come to an end. But she drew courage from one thing that had been keeping her from running away. Hope.
“Sel, I….” He straightened on his seat and leaned closer to Selene. “I wish things could be different…I wish…I wish you told me earlier. I…”
“What do you mean?” Selene didn’t move. She just felt her stomach sinking, together with her heart, slowly making their way on to the ground as if getting ready to be stepped on. She knew it. She knew he’d never feel the same way. She shouldn’t have done this, she thought.
“I love you, Sel. So much. And I’ve…been secretly in love with you for a long time.” Sebastian said carefully.
Selene’s heart almost leaped but then she stopped herself. She knew there was something more. So much more that he wanted to say. So she waited.
“But…” He started and he looked down.
“But what…but what Sebastian?” She said almost in a whisper. She wasn’t even sure if Sebastian would have heard it if they weren’t this close to each other.
Then Sebastian looked at her deep into her dark green eyes that he knew so well. He couldn’t believe that he could make those eyes be full of tears as he would say what he was about to say. And there’s no other way to say it but truthfully.
“I’m engaged. To be married.”