I try to bury myself into my schoolwork for the next few weeks. It’s the only thing that keeps me from thinking about Kendal and what he said to me on Valentine’s Day. I still haven’t been able to say the words back to him. My mind is still all in a jumble, which makes me even more worried. If I don’t say it soon, Kendal is going to think that I don’t want to be with him anymore.
Aside from focusing on school, the writing club has been a great distraction. This whole situation has really gotten my creative juices flowing. I have been able to write quite a few short stories and even a few poems for our meetings. Luckily, Kendal hasn’t been able to pick up that some of the poems are actually about him. Kendal then came up with a new idea, Poetry and Short Story readings. We would book a room and everyone in our group would recite one of their pieces of writings. We could invite anyone we want and it would be almost like a poetry reading at a coffee shop.
Today is our first reading and my stomach is completely in knots. I have practiced reading my story many times, but I am still nervous.
As I am preparing to leave, I hear a ring from my phone. It’s Janice.
“Hey Janice, are you already in the room?” I ask.
“Yup, the place is a bit dull though. Looks like they were only able to score a used classroom.”
I chuckle. “Janice, its only the first recital. I’m sure if things go well this time, we will get a better place next time.”
Janice laughs. “All right, I’m just kidding. You on your way?”
“Yes, I’ll be there in a bit. See you soon!”
I then hang up and head out of my room.
Snow is coating the ground as I head out into the darkening night. It’s always weird to me to see snow in the beginning of March. Still, it is beautiful. I stop and enjoy the snowfall for a bit before heading off toward the student union building.
“Hey Elizabeth,” Kendal says, as I approach the building ten minutes later. “You ready for your reading?”
I sigh. “As ready as I will ever be. I am so nervous.”
Kendal smiles. “Don’t be. You’re going to be great! I’ve read some of your stuff and it’s amazing. You are going to be a great author someday.”
I feel my cheeks flush. “You sure have faith in me.”
“Of course Lizzie. You are an amazing writer and soon the whole world is going to know.” He then takes my hand into his. “You ready to go in?”
I take a deep breath and sigh. “Yes.”
My heart does a complete somersault when I enter and see Michael sitting toward the front. I remember mentioning the recital to him, but I didn’t think that he would show up, what with his weird behavior and everything.
“Michael! What are you doing here?” I ask when I reach his table.
“Well I recall you mentioning something about this recital and I didn’t want to miss it.”
“Really? Wow.” I feel my cheeks start to flush again. “You didn’t have to do that.”
“Well I wanted to. Besides, I haven’t gotten a chance to read any of your stuff yet. Now I get to hear it.”
I smile and nod. As if I wasn’t already nervous enough, now I feel like I am going to throw up.
Luckily, it isn’t my turn to go yet. It actually isn’t for a while, which gives me the chance to review my story again before I go up. Kendal goes right before me, but I am so nervous that my attention is on my story instead of his.
“Don’t be nervous, you’re going to be great,” Michael whispers to me. My ears tingle from his voice.
“I’ll try,” I whisper back.
It is at that moment, that Kendal finishes his story and the room fills with applause. I look up feeling a bit ashamed. I was so into looking over my story that I missed hearing his.
“Last but not least, my girlfriend, the beautiful and talented, Elizabeth Drake.”
I am a bit thrown by Kendal’s announcement for me and I can tell Michael is, for he flinches slightly.
I slowly make my way up to the front and place my story on the podium.
“Hello everyone,” I say with a wave as I look around the room. “I am Elizabeth Drake and I am going to read a short story I wrote called ‘“Mirror Reflection.’” “Don’t be nervous,” I tell myself. “You can do this.”
I then launch into my story. It is a story I wrote a few weeks ago about my feelings on starting college. It also relates to what I went through with the Abby situation. I haven’t written about it in a long time and I decided that if I am going to recite a story, why not put myself out there.
The room falls silent as I talk and everyone actually seems to be deep into my story. I feel my confidence growing and I get more and more into my story. I can see Kendal smiling up at me and Michael doing so as well. Even Janice seems to be really into what I am saying. Maybe picking this story was a good idea.
“So I glance into the mirror once again and search for my reflection, my symmetrical self that reflects who I am today.”
After I finish my last line, the room erupts into applause. “Thank you!” I say, with another wave and then I step down from the podium. “You did it!” I tell myself and fill with pride.
“You were amazing!” Michael says with a smile as I gather my things from the table where we were seated.
I shrug. “I was okay.”
“Lizzie,” he says gently, and I look up slowly. Michael is staring at me with a soft expression. “You were great. You are an amazing writer and I’m glad I got the chance to see it.”
I feel my cheeks heating up. “Thank you Michael.”
I open my mouth to something else, when I see Kendal waving me over to the door.
“I have to go,” I say to Michael. “I’ll see you around?”
Michael nods. “Of course.”
Kendal and I leave the building and head off across the snow-covered lawn. The snow has stopped falling, but has left the ground covered in white.
We walk along until we pause by the university lake, which is frozen solid.
“You were great,” Kendal says, taking my hands into his. “I knew you would be.”
“You did tell me,” I say with a smile. “It was nice to read my story out loud. It’s been a long time since I have done that.”
“Well you did wonderfully. I’m so proud of you.”
Kendal then turns away from me. “You know Elizabeth, we can’t keep avoiding talking about it.”
I swallow nervously. “About what?”
“You know what Liz. It’s been almost a month and we haven’t talked about what happened on Valentine’s Day.”
I bit my lip. “I’m sorry Kendal. It’s not that I haven’t been thinking about it. I guess I have just been so distracted lately.”
“Well, I can’t wait anymore.”
Kendal turns back to me. “I have to know how you feel about me. I love you Elizabeth, and need to know if you feel the same way.”
I feel that familiar lurch in my stomach, but I push it away. “Kendal…”
Kendal moves closer to me so that our faces are only inches from each other.
“If you don’t feel the same way, you have to tell me now.”
My heart is beating miles a minute as I stare into his eyes. I don’t even know what to say or think. My mind is racing. Finally, I say the only thing I can think of to say.
Kendal looks at me in surprise. “What?”
“I do. I love you too Kendal.”
I nod. The tension in my stomach is starting to release. “Yes, and I’m sorry it has taken me so long to say it. I guess after everything we have gone through, I was just afraid.”
Kendal kisses me gently and smiles. “Elizabeth, I meant what I said to you back on Valentine’s Day. I want this to work between us. I’m not going anywhere.”
I smile and kiss him back. “Neither am I.”
It’s only after we part ways and I start walking back to my dorm, that I wonder about what I said to him. Although I would never admit it, somewhere deep inside of me, I was doubting everything between us.