The Zone

I just stared. I liked the way he smiled intermittently when he spoke of his annoying little brother. I thought his gestures were cute and the way he hardly kept eye contact was teasing—what was he hiding? He spoke while scribbling what seemed like the outline of a nude lady on his notebook. His whispering stopped abruptly and so did his sketchy artwork. Something had broken the peace of my surreal experience. I didn’t realize I was smiling sheepishly until I turned swiftly to the left, seeing the crossed look on Dela’s face as if expecting me to say something. The rest of the class giggled.
Nudging me into a better sitting posture he whispered what I later came to know as an answer to the question Dela had asked. I was lost and this was not the first time. With an elaborate shrug, the lecturer moved on. I was mortified. maybe I should stop sitting next to him or shouldn’t have chose the same classes in the first place. What was I thinking?
Then I remembered my pen had a use. I picked it up, held it over my blank page and stared at the PowerPoint slides projected on the screen in front of the class. It was an hour into the class and everything looked so foreign that I almost forgot the class I was in. But hey! I couldn’t wait till it ended. After all Cyprian and I could hang out after this class since it was both our last for the day.
Mid semester zoomed in and I watched the components of my final grades play the downside of a roller-coaster. On the other hand we were closer friends now. That was important. But every thing changed when he asked me out. It was so sudden and out of the blue. I could not get a word in edgewise after his question. I was in my own panic world now and could only see his lips mouth out words as the walls of the restaurant closed in on me. speechless.
“I think you’re a great friend,” I replied with a smile. I sounded like a broken record making a last attempt on the last four beats of a song, “…and I don’t want us to mess up this special friendship.” He seemed crushed but his smile did not waver. I beamed with a much broader smile while my insides screamed at me, “You just friend-zoned your longest crush!” What had I done?

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