How do you explain having a crush all your earthling existence and yet, not able to express how you felt because you were too shy and probably because you fear rejection which is why you follow him around school like a lost puppy ever since you were like twelve and realised just how breathtakingly handsome he was..
That had been my dilemma for my twenty- something years of existence and that boy was Jayden.
Sweet, sweet Jayden, the love of my humble young feeble years to the love of my youth and adult fantasies.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
A trip down memory lane shall we? Take a sit, grab a box of tissue and maybe a jar of chocolates… Isn’t that what girls do when they have their hearts broken?
We lived across the street from each other and went to the same school, same class and everything but we never talked those early years.
He was the jovial happy-fun-loving kid, the extreme extrovert and lovable, plus he was the top of his class at everything.
Me? Let’s just say I was invincible.
No one knew me, well if you put aside the fact I got nicknamed “ugly duckling” due to a nasty fall. But that’s for later.
Oh yes, ugly duckling. That was my nickname. I had braces on since I was like ten, I wasn’t even pitied and considered fine, my hair was a mass of spongy thick cobwebby mane; it never could stay flat so I was constantly walking around with natural dreadlocks because it hurt a lot to run a comb through it. Believe me, I tried. Mum gave up eventually and dad wouldn’t even dare.
I had a look of misplaced priorities, I mean I was too short for a girl, clumsy around the edges, flat chested and looked like a pole, In fact I was a total mess. I sucked at practically everything, I was an overly timid child, I kept to myself and it was obvious I didn’t have friends. No one wanted to hang with a girl who lacked all sort of “Everything”. I was a loner. The only person who looked my way was Vera, she was an exchange student and we bonded after a while. But again, not relevant. Back to the reason of my tarnished young years.
It even sucked more that I was in the same class with Jayden and the only thing I was good at was drooling over his cute face and breath-taking smile, his smartness and the fact that he was like everyone’s favourite kid and I wasn’t even jealous, no, I just liked him pretty bad and wanted to be his friend at least, just maybe I would die happy, but it couldn’t be helped.
It didn’t matter how many times I passed his seat to get to mine Or how many times I helped to pick up his pen when it slips off his bag, I was sitting directly behind him practically my whole life and he never noticed me.
I mean, we lived just a few feet’s apart and he never knew my name.
Well…am sure “ugly duckling “would ring a bell. I wouldn’t even had cared if he called me that. I would smile and be happy for the rest of my life, If only wishes were horses right..?
It took the grace of everything divine to help me not to flunk exams.
All through junior high, I followed him like his invincible shadow, I knew his time table and made it mine, I attended all his classes and I didn’t even like maths, I would learn the language of the gods if he asked me to, but for him, I brought in all my A-game, I literally had to beg mother to sign me up for extra moral classes just because being close to him was like sitting next to this deliciously chocolate cake and because you don’t want to ruin it you just stare at it drooling, hoping it stays perfect like that for ever, but the sad thing is that you just want to eat it, savour it and feel it roll over your tongue and just “ummmmmm” closing your eyes when the taste reaches the highest point in your head.
Silly me right? Oh well. #shrugs
I hated sports, but I attended all his games and cheered the loudest. He was a basketball player. He was tall, even for his age, dark wavy hair, and those eyes, those deep blue eyes that could look deep in to your soul and make you tell him all of your dark little secrets and his smile, heavenly divine.
I had to be there for everything that he was, everything that he needed. They say, you have to value the things the one you love values, so I wasn’t exactly in the wrong was I? He loved maths I had to start loving maths, he was into sports, I couldn’t join the cheerleading team because, well you know, you had to be beautiful, long hair you can toss here and there rolling your head, long legs that ran up for miles and well, just be beautiful and you know I was a zero when it came to that. So, I was content going to his daily practice, every game. It didn’t matter that I stood and watched by the side-lines, all I wanted was just to be able to see him every day and listen to him speak smart and make all the girls swoon after him by merely doing nothing and goodness, Jayden didn’t have to try hard for anything, He was a total genius . His aura was electrifying and at the same time captivating. When I think about him, my tiny little heart dies a thousand flips.
Then one day, out of the blue, the stars shines down on me. Oh! I felt the rays of the rainbow parting the cloud of mist and it parted like the red sea and he stood there right in front of me, like my Moses to my red Sea, or like my Sinbad crossing the seven seas. Yes, Jayden Michael was my divine miracle.
Mr Kenny had given each of us an assignment and needed us to work it into a project for the last semester before the summer break and we all were asked to pair and of course, everyone wanted to be paired with Jayden. Well, hell yeah! I also wanted to be paired with him too but I didn’t dare say it out loud, my timid shy self wouldn’t let me, I instead hoped to the heavens and the stars and all the gods that I could keep him away from every body and apparently , everyone wanted to keep him away from everyone,
“The nerve of them!” I rolled my eyes
And the class was in chaos. I literally threw daggers at every girl looking at him, I wanted to pluck out their eyes and feed it to the ducks. And the boys? Well, they don’t mean any harm do they…
Mr Kenny had to reshuffle, Jayden was causing such an uproar like he was a celebrity of some sort. And hell yeah he was, he was the Michael Jackson to my Billy Jean, the Elvis Presley to all that was sweet, Jayden was the star and he needed no rock to shine. I mean not mentioning that he was like the richest kid in school, which I didn’t care about, even if he sold biscuits on the highway I would still want to take him home and stare at him all day. But I get it, superstars were gushed all over, and when everyone kept insisting to be paired to Jayden, I tried not to summon the super powers I didn’t have and toss every single girl in class out of the window, a thousand miles, two countries and galaxies away from my Jayden. Yes, my Jayden.
“Quiet down everyone. Quiet down. I am going to share numbers and alphabets. 1a will be paired with 1b, 2c and 2d and Etcetera, you pick one and then you check who you are paired once you come back to school tomorrow, and it’s going to be finale, no more arguments on that matter.”
Everyone scurried to the box after Mr Kenny wrote down the numbers and poured the contents into a box placing it on his desk, everyone picked out folded pieces of paper, when it was my turn, my heart literally falling out of my chest, giving up,
‘Jayden must have been picked already’ I silently sobbed, strolling to the front dipping my hand into the box and picked. The bell rang telling us all it was time to go home, everyone picked up their bags and filed out, forming a circling around Jayden as he left, chatting him up, smiling and brushing up against him and my dreams went with him, my hopes were dashed, I tucked what was left of my heart into my bag, slings it over my shoulders, slouching my back I went home downcast as though the boat carrying all my treasures were at the bottom of the sea where it sunk.
Next day, I wasn’t eager to be in school, making mum threatening to drag my little tush to school and because I didn’t want to be more embarrassed than I already was of my looks, I frowned all the way to school. My star didn’t shine, my moon didn’t glow, and even the crickets didn’t make annoying noises at night. Life sucked and I knew I was going to hate writing my project with someone I probably don’t like and who probably don’t like me either. Really, life was so unfair.
Mr Kenny comes in, and the class begins and when his session was almost done he announces…
‘Time to find out who your partner is going to be for the project.” he states as he brings out a list from his bag
“Tell me what your number is and I would call out your partner” he orders
I sat at the back of the class, just because I hated being in the spot light, because the background usually appealed to me… #deep sigh.
Well, I was at the back and as such, I was always the last. I waited for my turn, realising that I haven’t heard his name, but I had stopped listening, I didn’t want to have my heart shatter to pieces again when they pair him with another, and I have to pick my broken pieces like scattered pieces of orange seeds on the ground and slinging my jars of broken hearts like a dirty trophy home and maybe die out of depression, so I blocked out my ears instead. Why was life always unfair? Why lord!! ?
“Cynthia? Cynthia Morgan?
I wondered why I wasn’t pretty. Like really, really out of the fairy tales pretty, with long black silky hair, blue eyes and full lips like the ladies in the movies, I thought to myself.
“Cynthia Morgan are you with us?” Mr Kenny calls out again.
“And have breasts and lovely hourglass hips like a model in Vogue magazine. If I were that beautiful, Jayden would be all over me and that would make all the girls jealous and all the boys drool over me, if I were-
‘CYNTHIA ABIGAIL MORGAN!!!”
I started out of my thoughts. .
“Yes Mr k-kenny” my chicks burned. How long had he been calling my name? I had everyone staring at me, but why were the girls staring at me with anger and wishing they could do something terrible to me. I shivered.
“Is something wrong?” I asked around me and at everyone.
“You are the last person Cynthia and I just called out your partner and it seemed you just zoned out on us for a minute. Do you mind sharing?”
I shake my head “No, am sorry sir” I stated, but why was everyone still staring at me and who got Jayden? I looked to see him still seated, head forward, even when he was serious he had a cute serious face.
“Well okay, you and Jayden Michaels are project buddies. Now that every one of you have been paid, get to work” he says and I didn’t realise my mouth had dropped open.
“Am sorry Mr Kenny, but did you just say Jayden Michaels is my project partner?”
He raises up his eyebrows,
“Yes Cynthia, is that a problem?
“Holy cow!!” I gushed, repeating “holy freaking cow!!”
I gushed again.
“Cynthia?” a stern warning and an even higher brow
“Am sorry sir but holy-freaking-mackaholy-cow” I mutter again, now I understood the shock registered on everyone’s face.
I heard murmuring, I could feel their jealous anger, and the murmuring became louder.
“Quiet down everyone, you all have been paired, so … I implore you to bring your A-Game, anything less than a C is a pass and I hate passes-” he kept talking and the murmuring and hissing and eyeing didn’t stop but you see,
I didn’t even bother to listen to their cuss, at this point I didn’t care if they called me methuselah, ugly duckling or a baboon’s balls, Nope. I was going to be Jayden project partner for a whole week, what more could I ask for.
Which meant that we would talk, like literally talk. OK majorly about the project but who cares, there would be talking at least and there would be constant hanging out together, my house or his house , boy it really didn’t matter, to erm… rub minds. I smiled
I jumped and did the summersaults in my mind. I was excited because most importantly I would have the opportunity to be up close and personal with him, maybe touch his hand and run my hand through his hair. Ok that is far – reaching.
What, a girl can dream right? Bite me!!
But the mere fact that we may have to share something common, screw the fact that it’s just an assignment or project, but to me . It would be a start of something new, and I would have to be with him for a whole week?
“ahhhh, Ok now I could die. Kill me, somebody please”
“Cynthia, you just have to stop smiling stupidly” Eva says. She was the next to what’s popular in school, and her troll of wanna-be’s, which of course I didn’t care of. She eyes me, and they eye me too. What do I do? I dust their glare off my shoulders as though hate got nothing on me. I was walking on water with a crown on my head. I wouldn’t care even if I was sitting next to the big bad devil and he was pointing his nasty two-headed rake at me, I would blow him a kiss. So I did just that, blowing a kiss to her, she passed me picked up her bag and sneered at me, her troll of friends sneered at me too. Oh what a good laugh I had.
Yes, I still didn’t care, today I was walking on higher mountains, flying on eagle wings and catching a ride with Aladdin on magic carpet . I was staring at Jayden who just sat there talking to his fellas, visibly unbothered.
I still smiled, picking up my bag
“What do they say in the good book? Good things come to people who wait right? And haven’t I waited too? Maybe God was answering my prayers”
Even my mother couldn’t understand the reason for my all-too-sudden glee and burst of energy. I was goofy-smiling all over the place doing my chores, waking up earlier than normal, I even folded my cloths and made my bed getting up. Things I never do without a fight and a bucket of tantrums.
I made extra effort to tame my stubborn hair.
I stayed up most nights to read up so that I don’t come off as being exceptionally stupid and dumb when he asked me questions. I even had to wear pretty dresses and put on tiny makeup. Just because I wanted to look good for him. Was that such a bad thing?
But you see I was always a colossal fuckup. We started today, he was sitting next to me, books on the table and he was talking, I didn’t know what he was saying or if it even made sense but I would stare at him stupidly, smiling and nodding, clumsily spill drinks while drinking, and laugh nervously even when he didn’t say anything funny.
I never had an answer to his questions because I was busy thinking about how beautiful his eyes are, his hands looked too good, like one who played the musical instruments and I wondered if he ever did.
I even envisaged him asking me to be his girlfriend, I mean I was intoxicated and I was as obvious as a large toolbox in the center of a baby shower.
Exactly, what is it doing there or what’s the correlation? Same thing I should be asking myself.
I and Jayden were off, total opposites, like oil and water, we can’t mix. We were like misplaced, uncoordinated priorities and I had no business nursing such thoughts, neither did I have any business drooling all over our assignments. Like those large disgusting spittle forming a long streak running down my face and sitting majestically on my shirt. And I didn’t notice. Not until his face turned upside down in a disgusted growl did I wake up from my gushing slumber.
I had never felt so embarrassed in my life and He had to snap me out of it by shaking me. He felt disgusted, the look on his face was certain and his next words shattered me.
“Are you this dumb and literally stupid. Drooling all over the place like a three year old.
Gosh!! Look I get it, all the girls like me and want to hang with me. I am cute, brainy and my family is rich but could you be less obvious. Now see what you did to our assignment sheet.
You know what? You aren’t even smart or contributing to this, I will handle it myself. Don’t worry about it I would tell Mr Kenny you were a good sport. You are welcome. Please just leave. I really can’t stand ugly girls much less dumb ones, who can’t close their mouth and drool like a kid slopping over a lollipop. Get a grip Tina or whatever your name is, or ugly duckling which suits you just fine, here take my hanky and you can keep it.” His face turned into a frown, as he dangled his hanky in front of me, as one trying to avoid contacting a diseased person, as soon as I took the hanky and muttered an inaudible thank you, he wipes his hands to his trousers getting up, he didn’t want me to touch the door knob so he opens it for me, waiting to usher me out, and I felt as though I was being ushered out of my heavenly bliss.
Did I die?
Yes! Literally my heart stopped
I wished the ground would open up but no, I stood there transfixed in my whole mess. Just two days, two freaking days and my hopes and world shattered.
Not only did I embarrass myself, I did it in front of the boy I was crushing on, not only did he talk and look at me, he called me stupid and ugly and felt disgustedly irritated.
Up until today, I hadn’t felt repulsed about myself until today and I felt worse than ugly; I felt hideous
I felt worse than stupid, I felt disappointed. I died.
I gathered myself or what was left of myself, murmured an apology and left.
By the following day, it was all over school.
Damn! Bad news sure travels fast.
He had told his best friend, some Tom dude, who decided the whole school needed a good medicine for laughter, I even bagged a new name “ugly duckling the dumb drooler ” and a caricature that have resembled a thing the cat pulled out of the dumpster pasted on my locker with ‘Cynthia Morgan’ scribbled beside it.
I recoiled, finally, for the first time in a few years, I became popular. More popular than the first day I started here, one minute I was trying to settle in into the new environment, the next minute I had missed my footing, stumbling down the stairs, and you wouldn’t believe who I was staring at, and yes have at it and take a wild guess.
The boy with the most beautiful smile, the way he threw his head and laughed just like a little kid to a joke I couldn’t hear. While I landed like a big pile of dirt on the ground causing a loud thud, everyone turns, and then the laughter broke out like tiny rain drops crescending into a fountain of large clapping rainstorms.
Yes I had fallen with my dignity, broken the front of my entire teeth and I needed about twelve stitches, and by the following week… “Hey Ugly duckling ” began and it stuck.
Now, a few years down the line everyone knew me again, I wasn’t invincible anymore I was laughed at mocked and jeered at. My life was officially fucked. All because of my love for the most handsome boy I have ever met.
I couldn’t take it anymore, after the semester ended and the summer kicked in, come new fall, as I left for the summer break, I never came back.
I left with my heart on my sleeves, leaving the boy I love behind and the world of the tease and taunts and hatred, leaving the trend of the ugly duckling who drooled over a boy and got shamed. I had to leave it all behind, cry over it, learn from it and move on and I did. I was fifteen years old at the time, when I boarded the bus. Vera, the only girl who I talked to, who wasn’t mean as the rest of them stood waving me goodbye.
“I would see you when you get back from visiting your aunt’ she said, taking out her camera to take a picture of us.
“Yes, when I come back after summer” I lied. I wasn’t coming back. Vera was a good friend, she had always been and I felt sad for lying to her but I didn’t want to tell her. I didn’t want to tell anyone. I just wanted to leave, and I knew no one would miss me or even remember me after a week. While I waved her back, I had wished I could see him one last time, maybe for once, he would look at me without disgust in his eyes.
I know you are wondering,
“You were just what, fifteen. What did you know about love? ”
But I don’t care, Jayden made my heart stop and if that wasn’t love, I don’t know what is.
Now ten years later, here I am, without braces, without the awkward and clumsiness, with silky black mane of hair that bounced effortlessly. Yes, I learnt to tame it, and I looked like what the gods crafted especially out of beauty.
I had just come in from the airport, stopping at the local store to get me a cold drink of lemonade, I remembered the town like the back of my hands.
And there he was, standing just a few feet’s away from me, handsome as always, even after ten years. Even in my sleep I could carve out his face and tell it contour for contour, he didn’t look much different, his face looked the same but much more mature, he had this rugged finesse going on, a tiny beard to show his masculinity, broad shoulders and he was wearing a white shirt tugged into jeans, showing off his flat tummy, I couldn’t see the packs but my eyes could see through his cloths, he had his sleeve rolled up and gosh, there was something sexy about guys with rolled up sleeves. As soon as I saw him I knew that face had haunted my dreams for years, he looked like a Greek god, sexy as hell, still a total babe and my heart did the fast and slow thing at the same time, but I was older and wiser, more controlled plus I could handle it now like a boss. I didn’t bat an eye, damn I acted like I didn’t even see a fine man or much less know him.
But you see, life is such a tease.
Years ago I was drooling all over him, being a silly teenage girl with her crushing all over the place, but now years later, he had his mouth open, in shock and awe and maybe a bit of stunned dumbfounded-ness.
I too became a total babe and damn!! I was a sight for sour eyes. I smiled knowing how I looked this morning. Wearing a fitted red dress, showing off my perfect cleavage, red lipstick and black heels, sun glasses pushed into my hair removing my hair away from my face. My body? What a good exercise routine can do wonders for you, and my butt? I bent down to strap on my shoes properly, letting my bum do the “love” curve shape. I know the men shopping were staring and the ladies, well, wishing they could throw me out of the window but, I wasn’t to be bothered.
I picked up the bottle of lemonade, a few box of cookies and a magazine. I could feel eyes on me…
“How much are these?” I asked the girl behind the counter.
“250 bucks” she said, openly observing me… “You look like a movie star. Are you a model?” She asked. I laugh shaking my head.
“No honey, I am not. Why do you think so?” She didn’t look more than sixteen. I saw him from my side eyes watching me, with full admiration.
“Oh why. But you are so beautiful. What are you doing here? Superstars don’t come here?”
“Well, I come from here and my family lives here. I even went to school here one time, Harbeth’s Junior High, have you heard of it? It’s been over nine years I was home?” I said, I saw him edge closer
“For real? How… oh wow!! I go there now. That means your name would be in the year book of class erm… class” she counted nine years backwards “class ’06?
“Class ’07 actually. My name is Cynthia Morgan” he moved closer, trying to peer into my face
“Oh that’s awesome. I would look for you in the year book, I am sure you were the most prettiest in the whole of junior high?”
“No honey, on the contrary, I was the ugliest. Look for the girl with the braces and stitches across her face. That was me. Now, you see this beauty, then. .everyone called me “ugly duckling” I said, I heard him choke on his drink. I smiled.
“Oh how dreadful” she said. “But you look amazing now”
“I know right?” I laughed paying my bills, I walk pass him pretending as though I didn’t notice him staring at me as I neared the exit.
‘Ugly duckling? Cynthia Morgan? Are you her?” he called out to my back, shocked registered on his face, cleaning off his spilled drink, he had disbelief in his eyes. I turn slowly.
“Am sorry, Who are you? ” I asked
“Ugly duckling, are you the same person who was called that name? Is your name Cynthia Morgan? ”
Wow!! He never knew my real name.
‘Who are you?” I asked again, feigning pretence.
“It’s me, Jayden. Jayden Michaels. We went to school together. I was at Harbeth’s Junior high too, we erm… we did a project together one time, erm.. You don’t remember me?” he laughed nervously.
I walked up to him, slowly, bending my head side to side, the way people do when you are trying to remember someone
“Erm, Jake?” I asked. I didn’t want to let him know I remembered him like the back of my hands.
“No no, Jayden Michaels. All the girls came around me, Tom’s friend. The four fellas in school…anything?”
I shake my head, side to side again, showing I have no idea who he was.
“Erm… Nope. Am sorry. My high school was kind of a blur” I lied. I could never forget his face in a million years.
But I was glad he was interested to make me remember him. What good looks could do to a man, I smirked
He walks towards me smiling, his eyes taking all of me in, appreciating my looks, liking what he saw, I noticed the spark in his eyes.
“Alright then, let me re-introduce myself, my name is Jayden Michaels, I went to Harbeth’s Junior High, Class ’06. Now I work as a company lawyer to Felixstowe Enterprises” he gives me his hands. Those beautiful hands I always wondered if they played the music instruments
I take his in mine.
“Hi, am Cynthia and I don’t remember you but that’s fine. But nice to meet you and I have to get going.” I stated letting go off his hand and trotting away
“Can I at least get your number?” He called out
I turn sideways, flipping my hair to the side, giving it a brief thought then shaking my head, he laughed that beautiful laugh of his.
“Hey, then how do I get to see you again?”
“You don’t. And hey, close your mouth Jayden, you are drooling” I say over my shoulders flipping my hair away, letting him watch me walk away.
I walked on knowing his eyes followed me…assessing…admiring me…desiring me..
I knew no one would forget the beautiful lady who walked into the local store today, much less him, he was going to remember the girl in the red dress and that was a thrill to me.
Jayden watches her walk out of the door, his eyes never leaving her until she disappeared out of sight, he brings out his phone and places a call to his friend Tom.
“Dude, what’s up Bro?” Tom asked, as he answered on the first ring.
“You aren’t going to believe who I just ran into?”
“Who? The queen of England? Smiggle from Lord of the rings or is it Lucas from star wars?” Tom askes,
“Ugly duckling is back in town, who happens to be Cynthia Morgan. Dude ugly duckling is back in town and by God, she ain’t ugly no more.
It’s like I just had a heart attack. Shit!!” He says again, placing a hand to his chest
“You kidding me right?”
“No dude, she looks like a million bucks, those kind of bucks you don’t want to sell. It yours, yours. Not anyone else. She looks like someone, someone just stepping out of Vogue magazine and all. Wow, I was blown away” Jayden says, running his hand through his head.
“Wow!!!” Tom says.
“No Tom, more like damn! I have to see her again.” He says
I smiled again exiting the store, I knew my presence was going to get to him. I put on my glasses and walk into the sunny streets of where I used to call home…
It’s going to be Christmas in a few days,
And I know what I want for Christmas. ..
To be continued.