What did you do this weekend?

10 Oct

Usually I have the reason for my post before I share it with you. However, this one will be different. Story first and then explanation second. Also, this is my first short story that I’ve posted, so please, any comments are welcome. Good or Bad. I don’t care if you found my story the best thing ever, or the most boring piece of crap. Let me know, the only way I can get better is to see what I may be doing wrong/what people like. Thanks!

Paul was a shy kid. He did not typically do things that were considered part of the norm. Action movies, Jersey Shore, American Idol and other shows that turned your brain into puree were not part of Paul’s watching repertoire. Paul was enthralled by things that made you use your brain. Something that society is typically lacking as of late.

The ability to use your imagination is somewhat of a past element. Paul immensely enjoyed any type of medium that made him think. It could be a movie like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, or a book such as the Foundation Trilogy. As long as Paul was using his noggin’ he could find pleasure in whatever it is he was doing. Because of this, Paul was into things that were typically considered to be “nerdy,” or “geeky.” With society’s invalid values of people labeled with these terms Paul was always an outsider. Lucky enough for Paul, he was not so far outside that there was no chance of him getting back in, but enough that he was straddling the fence.

Given that Paul was shy and classified as a nerd, it was hard for him to make a connection with people. Obviously, Paul did have friends, but it was difficult to make new ones. It was even more difficult to approach girls. For most people, there is always that fear of being rejected, but being in Paul’s position his fear was increased tenfold. The result was that it took him roughly 12 years to ask his crush out on a date. Twelve years of trying to say “Hi,” as she walked by. Twelve years of writing notes to put into her locker, only to chicken out at the last minute. Twelve years of awkwardly making his presence known just enough, that he would not fall by the wayside. Twelve years of being fed up. Twelve years until he finally got the courage to, in one giant and outlandish gesture, ask out Emma.

__________

Emma was one of the prettiest girls in school. One of two reasons, that Paul had a crush on her. Emma was slightly shorter than him. She had the curly red hair, just like his favourite Spider-man love interest. She had that innocent face; her eyes the blue-green shade of an apatite gemstone, the small little nose that reminded him of a cute little rabbit, and thin lips that always appeared to be soft and glossy.

The second reason Paul liked Emma was that she was nice to him. When he did finally get up the courage to say “Hi,” she said it right back. She always made sure she said something nice to him when she, unknowingly to Paul, caught him not being able to put that note in her locker. She found it sweet and wanted to boost his confidence. Emma was the kind of person that did not judge anyone, always willing to give someone a chance. Paul saw this even when it was not directed at him. Emma was always willing to have the science lab partner that no one else wanted. She would make sure that she would not let the unpopular kids get picked last in gym class; an overall kind spirit. This happened throughout all of high school. The problem being, they were not in high school anymore.

__________

It was the first year of university for both Emma and Paul. They were one of the few students from their high school that decided to attend university. In high school they had all of their classes together. This was good for Paul. It was a way for him to still let Emma know that he existed, but he could still be his shy self without being totally forgotten.

Things were different now that they were in university. They only had one class together. The only upside to this was that it gave Paul an excuse to talk to her. They were the only two people that each other knew in this giant class of 300. Paul was still shy though. Even when they did sit together, Emma did most of the talking. Paul merely shrugged a few times and was limited to one word answers. Emma noticed this and instead of asking questions like, “How was your weekend?” which would be answered with a measly, “Good,” she started asking questions that would make Paul speak.

“You know, you don’t speak much do you?” curiously questioned Emma.

“No,” Paul replied shortly.

“Why is that?”

“Because.”

“Because isn’t an answer Mr. I only speak in one word sentences.”

“…” Paul was speechless after this. What was he going to say? He could not tell her that he has had a crush on her for ages. He couldn’t say that he would have sat behind her, if it wasn’t for her noticing him and asking him to sit next to her the first day of classes. What was he going to do? Paul started to squirm a little in his seat until Emma spoke again.

“I know you are shy and all. We did go to high school together. But come on man, talk. I’m not a stranger. You know, we did share every class together in high school before we got to this big campus. I would think by now that you could string together at least a four word sentence after I ask you a question.” Emma said all of this in a way that was firm, but jokey enough that Paul wouldn’t get freaked out and never speak to her again. In fact, it was almost comforting.

Paul replayed back what he had just heard. “We did share every class together…” Paul realized that she remembered. She knew who he was and that she cared. When he thought that he was doing just enough not to fall off the radar, he was actually doing enough to put himself on the map with a big flag that said “Look at me! I am right over here!” This is when he realized that maybe there wasn’t anything to be afraid of when talking to Emma. This is when he knew that he was going to ask her out. But he couldn’t do it yet. He had to plan it out. The time had to be right. But he had to say something in the meantime.

“Well…it’s… it’s… I just find your stories so much more interesting. I would rather listen to you, than… than talk about what I did on the weekend.” Paul said hesitantly.

“Holy! He speaks,” joked Emma, “well that’s sweet and all, but seriously, I get tired of talking sometimes. It would be nice just to hear what you have to say every once in a while.”

“Really?”

“Yeah really. So what did you do this weekend?”

“Well… I’m trying to not answer this in one word but… Nothing.”

“Oh come on! You did nothing? You stared into space and just sat there for two days? You had to have done something,” said Emma.

“Alright, alright, I studied for a bit and then read a book; nothing real interesting.”

“Okay you’re right, that is nothing… Haha! But seriously, that’s cool. At least I know now that you are not some sort of zombie.”

__________

Paul knew that he would likely have to act quickly in order to ask out Emma. Being in first year university, you meet so many people in such a short period of time. Everyone is looking for some sort of connection. It is just the way things work. Emma had even started to talk about other guys which made Paul uncomfortable. He didn’t want to fall into the friend zone. He had waited too long for this day to come. He needed to ask her out soon. And he knew exactly how he was going to do it.

__________

Finally the day had arrived. Everything was in place. Paul had his master plan and was ready to carry it out. No matter what happened, Paul was going to ask out Emma today. No turning back, no chickening out; all or nothing. All Paul had to do was, wait for Emma to come to him.

Emma came into the lecture theatre that hosted the class that Paul and her shared. Paul was usually already there holding a spot for Emma next to him. This time however, Paul was nowhere to be seen. She approached their usual spot to find a card folded on the top of the desk. It reminded her of a place setting card in the way that it was folded and in big letters had Emma written on it. Curiously she opened it up to find a note on the inside. But wait, it wasn’t just any note. It was a poem; one that had been derived from of the most memorable quotes of her favourite movie. It was short and to the point. It also gave a nice hint as to where to go after class. It kept on running through her mind during class. She couldn’t stop thinking about it. She read it over and over again. Instead of writing notes for the class she kept writing the poem down:

If I let go of your hand

Will you jump in the water with me?

Excitement while lying in the middle of the street

But being with you makes the world go quiet

If you’re a bird

Then, I’m a bird

If you’re intrigued

Meet me under the bronzed steed

The last line was what intrigued her most. There were only a handful of people that knew her favourite place on campus: Under the bronze statue of a horse. She loved it because it brought back childhood memories. Memories of Emma’s grandfather taking her out on a horse for the first time. Emma would go there in her break between classes to study and relax. The shade that the horse provided reminded her of sitting on the porch of her grandparent’s house. It was one of Emma’s favourite places as a child.

As soon as class ended Emma rushed to the bronze steed. Nervous, not knowing who she would find, but anxious to figure out who would know her well enough to make this grand gesture. As she approached the statue, she was shocked to have her admirer revealed. Standing underneath the tall majestic horse was Paul. There he stood with Gerber Daisies, Emma’s favourite flower, in hand. She approached slowly and before she could say anything Paul piped up.

“Emma, I know I haven’t had the courage to say this before, but I have it now. Surprisingly, you are the one that gave it to me in the first place. So without you, this idea and my acting on said idea would have never happened.” Paul took a short pause to breathe deeply before he continued. “Emma… I have liked you for a long time. You have always been kind to me. Lately you have even tried to make me more sociable, something that has always been difficult for me. Yet here I stand, because of you, expressing my longest secret. I don’t feel afraid anymore to confront you about this. It has now become something that I have to do, without fearing future regret. I know this is a long winded way of saying it, but… Emma, will you go out with me?”

The only thing that Emma could say after being shell-shocked like this was:

“Yes.”

__________

The day of the date had finally arrived. Because of Paul and Emma’s busy school schedule, they had to make the date on a Sunday. Paul had dreamed of this day for ages. Ever since the first grade, Paul had this vision of taking a girl to a fancy restaurant and giving her flowers. He had that vision even before he saw Emma. It was only seconds later that he first met Emma, and he knew that he wanted it to be her that he took out on that wonderful date.

Paul was nervous. He had already planned to take her to one of his favourite places. This place wasn’t too fancy that they would feel out of place being university students, but one that was still classy with a good vibe. Paul was still going to dress nice. A nice dark blue pair of jeans, a white collared shirt, a grey sweater vest, and a simple black tie was his attire. His hands were shaking as he was trying to tie his own tie. After a few tries, Paul was left with a knot that was acceptable.

Before Paul left his own place, he sent Emma a text message stating that he was on his way to pick her up. Paul was still had an old fashioned mentality. He would walk up to the door, ring the doorbell, introduce himself and escort Emma to his car. To his surprise, Emma had already replied back to him seconds after his original message.

“Text me when you get here. Don’t bother coming to the door,” was Emma’s reply.

Paul thought that maybe it was so he did not disturb anyone else in the house. Because of this, he decided to follow her message. Emma came running out the door shortly after he had sent the text. Before Paul had time to get out of the car and open the door for his date, Emma was already sitting next to him.

Emma was dressed in casual clothes. She was wearing a light coloured pair of jeans, a light pink t-shirt and a white hooded coat. Paul still thought she looked amazing and kind of shrugged off that they were going to a bit a fancier place.

“Don’t you look fancy,” Emma mentioned as she took a look at Paul’s clothing.

“Well… I just thought… that I.. I would,” Paul hesitated a little, “dress to impress.”

“Well I’m glad you thought of that, but you know you really don’t have to do that.”

“I know, but.. but I wanted too.”

“Fair enough.”

The restaurant that they were going to was located in the downtown core of the city. Parking was usually a hassle. Paul fluked out and got a good spot relatively quickly. This was because it was a Sunday. Something was off as they approached The Freehouse. There were no lights on and no one appeared to be in restaurant. They walked up to the door, only to notice on the sign that it was closed. The only day it was closed was Sundays.

“Hmm…” Paul mumbled before stating, “Even though this is my favourite place, I never knew that it was closed Sundays.”

“That’s okay. Do you have a back up?” questioned Emma.

“No, I didn’t expect this.” Paul said in a bit of a stunned haze. What was he going to do now? He had this night planned out and this threw a wrench in his plans.

“That’s okay, let’s go to Earl’s. It’s one of my favs!” Emma proclaimed.

“Sure, why not.”

“Good.”

“You know… I don’t think I have ever eaten there before.”

“You’ll like it. It’s a guarantee.”

“I’ll hold you to it”

Even though Paul seemed to be a bit of a deer in the headlights after his little fiasco of The Freehouse being closed, he thought that the night was going pretty good so far. They had just been seated at the new restaurant. This was it, the night he had thought of for so long. His dream was coming true. He could just see it now, the future was flashing before his eyes. This was just the beginning – The beginning of the rest of their lives.

The two’s conversation was going alright. They were laughing a bit, asking each other deeper questions than they usually do in class. Not just the regular, “What did you do on the weekend?” There came a point where, after every time someone finished their sentence, each of them took a drink from their glass of water. They were both doing it at the end of each other’s sentences. At the rate they were going, they would be drinking 42 cups of water. Paul finally realized that this was happening.

“It’s funny we both decide to take a drink at the same time,” Paul said, trying to make a joke.

“It’s the awkward reflex. One of the things you do until you think of the next thing to say,” Emma said, quite to the point. “It looks like we just both keep going back to the same one.”

“Really?”

“It’s quite common you know.”

Was it? Was it really? Paul didn’t know what to think from Emma’s statement. What does this mean? Paul was questioning everything now. He had thought that this night was going great, only to find out that they were both reacting to reflexes that were caused by not being completely comfortable. What could he do to fix this? It couldn’t end before it had really begun, could it? Paul couldn’t believe that this had happened and they hadn’t even received their food yet.

“The roasted chicken with rice?” questioned the server.

“Right here,” Paul stated.

“And you must be the salmon. Enjoy.”

“Thanks,” Paul and Emma stated in unison.

“This looks good,” said Paul, “I can’t wait to eat.”

Little talking went on while they ate. Paul thought to himself, “I know that the conversation should diminish slightly while we eat. But to have almost none? What is going on?” This was a question that Paul could not answer. When they did talk however, Emma brought up topics about Jersey Shore, American Idol, and many other topics that he had grown to hate because it did not develop the imagination. He was a smart guy, but this whole business was new to him. They had laughed a lot during class. Why couldn’t they continue that over a meal? How could she like these shows that did nothing for the brain and society? Why was his dream suddenly coming crashing to the ground?

“Oh wow that was some great salmon. How was your chicken?” asked Emma.

“Good, really good,” lied Paul. He actually thought that the chicken was tough and cold. A combination that he thought would be oxymoronic.

Paul had planned to go to a movie as well, but it just seemed like the night was dragging. He asked if Emma wanted to be taken home after the meal and she agreed. Paul parked the car in front of Emma’s house and the two just sat there. They both realized that something was missing. Something was off. They couldn’t explain it, but they had a silent agreement on their situation.

As Emma hopped out of the car she thanked Paul for the dinner and said, “See you in class.”

That was it. They were friends and there wasn’t anything else he could do about it. His dream had been shattered. How was he going to face her the next day in class? He came up with the solution that he would just show up late and sit somewhere in front or behind Emma. He would just go back to being the guy that was just in the same class as her.

__________

After Paul got home, he did what he would normally do if he wasn’t going out. He dived into a new book. Because he was a fast reader, he finished it that night and something occurred to him in the reading. The two main characters of the book, a male and female, were best friends. They got along in so many ways, but the dynamic to them was strangely familiar. They were friends. Nothing else. They both knew the roles in each other’s lives. This was why Paul always enjoyed reading, over watching the many mind numbing variety shows that were on the television. It gave him insight into his own life.

The next day he went to class the same time he always did. Paul sat down where he usually sat. Just like clockwork, Emma showed up a couple minutes later. Finally Paul knew what was going to happen between the two of them.

Before Emma could say anything Paul said, “How was your weekend?”

This story came to be because of a conversation that I had with a friend. We were talking about a girl that I thought was pretty cute. I was worried however, that she may be too young. I found that when we did have a chance to talk that conversation was one that was difficult to start. It was forced. This led me to some of my other attempts at relationships. Some were good. Some were bad.

I have actually had semi-relationships with a few people and still remained friends with them. I think that this is a strength and weakness of mine. It is something that I always try to maintain because let’s face it, having a bad break up is shitty – to be blunt. Don’t get me wrong, I have had a few where I just avoid like everyone else would. I just think that it is something if you can still be friends with someone after you have attempted romantic relationship.

While it does rarely work, it is something that I will continually try to make happen. It also saddens me when I cannot pull it off. It just seems like a waste. There is obviously some sort of connection. While it may stop being physical/romantic, there was a reason why it got to that point. You must have had something in common (in most cases) to get to that point.

The biggest thing that pains me in my own attempt to find “the one” as the fantasy goes, is finding that someone that you think is the said “one.” There have been a few for me as of late. And while it may seem crazy, I tend to see something there within the first few dates. I see something there that isn’t. Just like my character of Paul. I imagine something that I want to be. I am trying to jump ahead – attempting to skip the progressions of a normal relationship. I will admit to being a hopeless romantic. I don’t know why, but for whatever reason I believe in that story of knowing that you will be with someone forever, just after the first/second date.

This concept has happened to me. I have had relationships that I thought were going to go the distance. Even though it ended, I still remain friends with these people. Conversely, I have had the ones that only last a couple of dates because I (apparently) try to progress things too quickly. I put apparently in there because I was trying to keep my distance for the initial part, because I knew of the person’s past relationship. Even with my effort I was still moving too fast.

I don’t complain about any of this. I bring up these examples because I just want to show the inspiration for this story. The idea that many people have in mind what they want in a significant other. What they want their life to be in the future. But when you think you come across that person, you want to hold on to them. The idea is, if it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out. There was obviously something there that brought you together. And, while you may not remain friends forever (people just grow apart), there isn’t a reason that people still can’t remain friends in that period of their life.

If you realize what others are worth to you, then maybe, even if things don’t work out how you want you can still keep what it is that brought you together in the first place. And ideally, for those hopeless romantics out there like I, all of these other experiences are just going to lead you to that person that you have been searching for from the beginning. Not the one that asks you “how your weekend was,” but the one that is right there to share that experience with you.

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