I decide not to mention anything about that night with Michael again. I basically just pretend that it didn’t happen. That doesn’t seem to help my case with Michael though. I can tell he wants to say something about it, but every time I feel it coming, I try to stir the conversation to something else. I don’t know why, but I feel nervous thinking about what he wants to say. What if I was right? What if I wasn’t? Either way our friendship would change, and I don’t know whether it would be bad or good.
I try to wipe it from my mind especially when Valentine’s Day finally arrives. I don’t want to be worrying about Michael on a day that I am supposed to be thinking about Kendal. Still, I can’t seem to keep my thoughts about Michael out of my head. Even as I give my presentation in English class, I can’t help but think about it. What was I going to do?
“Thank you Elizabeth,” My professor Mrs. Watson says once I am finished. “We will continue the presentations on Monday. Class dismissed.”
I nod to her and then return to my seat to grab my backpack. I was a bit curious as so what Kendal had planned for that night. We hadn’t really talked about it during the week, but he did say to keep my schedule free for Friday night.
I follow the rest of my classmates out into the darkening night sky. It is kind of weird taking a class in the evening, but at the same time a bit relaxing. At least I don’t have to worry about walking through crowds to get back to my dorm. I can enjoy the nice cool air and the peacefulness of the night.
I am thinking this when I pass around a nearby counter and jump slightly. Standing in front of me is Janice and Michael. What were they doing out together in the night? Janice had told me that she was going on a date with Greg, so what was she doing out here with Michael?
“Hey guys,” I say walking over.
Janice and Michael both look over.
“Hey Lizzie,” says Janice. “Did you just get out of class?”
“Yah. What are you two doing out here? Didn’t your classes get out a few hours ago?”
Janice nods. “Yah, but I decided to do some studying at the library for a few hours. I have that math exam coming up in a few weeks.”
I frown. “Don’t you have a date with Greg?”
“Yah, but not until later. I was actually on my way back to the dorm when I ran into Michael.”
Janice looks from me to Michael and then smiles. “Why, did you think we were out on a date?”
My eyes widen. “W-what? N-no of course not! I know you aren’t. I mean if you were you would tell me. Right?” I feel my cheeks reddening.
“I’m just kidding Lizzie, goodness,” says Janice and she chuckles. I want to curse at her for making me look like a total idiot.
“S-so you got plans for tonight?” I ask Michael. I hope my cheeks have stopped blushing.
Michael shrugs. “Not really. How about you? Has Kendal planned anything for you two?” His voice gets a little tense when he says this.
“Yes, we do, but I’m not sure yet.”
There is a moment of silence and we try not to make eye contact with each other.
“Well, I should go,” I say finally. “I need to go home and get ready. I’ll see you two around.”
As I walk away, I hear Michael call after me “Happy Valentine’s day Liz.”
I pause for a second and then call, “you too,” before continuing along, trying to ignore that strange sensation starting again in my stomach. Why was it that being around Michael always made me feel this way?
In front of me, the door to a building opens and out comes Kendal. He must have just gotten out of one of his classes.
“Hey Kendal!” I call to him and hurry over.
“Hey Elizabeth,” he says with a smile, and I feel my chest light up with warmth.
“Just get out of class?”
Kendal nods. “Yup, I had lab today. For most of the afternoon.”
“So, we still on for tonight?”
Kendal grins. “Of course. I was actually just going to call you. Funny running into you like this.”
I laugh. “It must be fate.”
“Let’s meet up in an hour at the diner.”
I smile. “Sounds good.”
An hour later, we end up having a wonderful romantic dinner ending with us taking a walk along the beach. The cool breeze brushes against us as we walk and in the distance, we can hear the lapping of the waves against the shore.
We walk in silence for almost ten minutes before Kendal finally stop us.
“What is it?” I ask.
Kendal takes a deep breath. “Elizabeth, there’s something I’ve been wanting to say to you, for quite a while.”
I can feel my heart beginning to race. For some reason I feel like I already know what he is going to say and for some reason, it is making me feel extremely nervous.
“Kendal,” I start, but he stops me.
“Wait Liz, if I don’t say this, I think I’ll lose my nerve.”
My heart begins to beat faster. “Kendal-”
“Elizabeth, I love you.”
After the words leave his lips, everything becomes silent. It’s like everything stands still around me and all I can hear are those words echoing in my head. Kendal had just told me that he loved me. The first time a man had ever told me that, well other than my father. And honestly, I had been starting to feel the same way over the past few weeks of us hanging out. I had never had the nerve to say it, but here Kendal was, putting his heart on the line.
I open my mouth to respond, but then snap it shut. No words were coming out! Why was that?
Kendal looks at me curiously. “Lizzie,” he says softly. “Are you okay?”
“I-I um…” the words are failing to come to me. What was going on? Why couldn’t I say it back? I love Kendal. I know I do. So why can’t I say it?
“I um…” I try again, but my words still fail me.
Kendal looks at me for a minute and then sighs. “It’s okay, I understand. I put you on the spot. I’m sorry.”
At that moment, I finally find my voice. “N-no Kendal. Don’t apologize.” I sigh. “I’m sorry. I guess I just…I don’t know…”
“I said it too soon.”
I want to tell him no, but I can’t. “I guess I just need time to process it,” I say. “Is that okay with you?”
Kendal smiles. “Of course. Take the time you need. I know I made a mistake last time we were together, but things are different this time. I’m not going anywhere.”
I smile feeling relief flooding through me. “Thank you Kendal,” I say and we continue along the beach.
All the while, I keep thinking about what Kendal had said. Why couldn’t I say it back? Kendal was my boyfriend and I was crazy about him. So how could I just stand there like a stick when he poured his heart out to me? What was wrong with me?
Then as if on cue, my mind floats to Michael. What would he think if he found out what Kendal said to me? Would he be mad? I then shake my head. What did it matter what Michael thought? Kendal telling me he loved me had nothing to do with him. So why was I thinking of Michael?
I sigh and then turn my attention back to Kendal. I needed to get Michael out of my mind. Kendal is my boyfriend and Michael is just my friend. That’s it. But even as Kendal and I stop to watch the moon rise into the sky, I can’t help but wonder if that is really true.