Chapter 4: No Hard Feelings
Archimedes spotted Scarlett leaning against a pillar in the hallway, ears plugged to her phone. She was wearing sky blue Capri pants, red flip flops, and a white tank top with a symbol of ‘Anarchy’ drawn over it in red.
He jogged up to her and unplugged one of her ears to find out what she was listening to – ‘Falling’ by Harry Styles. He also took a sneak peek at her phone and noticed a wallpaper of Harry on the home screen. Scarlett snatched back her earpiece and frowned at him questioningly.
“You’re disappointingly basic,” he told her begrudgingly.
“Do I know you?” she shot back curtly.
“You tell me,” he replied mockingly, “you’re the one who’s been hanging around with my best friend,”
She proclaimed that it was ironic that Kenneth never spoke of him and also that it didn’t justify how he was treating her. Archimedes did not appreciate her audacity, so he gave his best impression of a death stare. He never received such cold attitude from a girl, especially not from someone as mediocre as her. They always cherished his company and yearned for his attention, while this one folded her skinny arms and arched a brow.
“I noticed you’re a fan of Harry Styles,” he teased.
“Yeah I find him very attractive,” replied Scarlett jadedly, “problem?”
“People tell me that he looks a lot like me,” he claimed.
“You mean ‘you’ look a lot like ‘him’” she corrected.
“So you agree?” he inquired grinning playfully.
A faint smile appeared on her lips.
“Maybe a little,” she stated nonchalantly, “what’s your name by the way?”
“Are you serious?”
“No, I’m Scarlett,”
It was mind-boggling for him that a girl who went to the same classes at college didn’t know his name. He was the kind of guy that girls couldn’t fail to notice and whisper about. He wasn’t sure if this one was pretending to be oblivious or whether she lived under a rock.
“Do you have an embarrassing name like ‘Gay Fartz’?” she humored.
Archimedes produced a dry little laugh and told her she was funny. She thanked him and bragged that a good sense of humor was in her genes.
“Lucky you,” he said with a big phony smile.
“So, care to tell me your name?”
“You can guess if you want,”
“Like a game of charades?”
“No, I’ll only give you one hint”
“Starts with an A’
“Geez…thanks! That narrows down my options to a million”
“According to my dad, I was named after some Greek scientist of ancient history,” he clued in.
“Aristotle!” she blurted out excitedly.
“Wow, not bad!”
Archimedes was impressed that she guessed on the second try, but at the same time amused by her utter enthusiasm. She told him that it was such a fabulous name and he informed her that she was the first to present such an opinion. She let him know that she always wished to be named after someone great and inspiring.
“I wish I was you!” she squealed, “You must have really cool parents!”
“You’re bizarre,” he responded.
The next moment she glanced at her cell phone and told him that she had to go.
“I’ll see you around Archimedes!” were her departing words.
As he saw her leave, he couldn’t help but admire the way she walked; her stride possessed an elegance fit for the ramp of a fashion show. He recalled the way she talked, accompanied by her very genuine priceless expressions – he hated to admit it, but he liked her.
Scarlett perceived that Kenneth was distracted as he sat across from her at the cafeteria. He was unusually quiet and his curly fries lay untouched before him. She stole a few from his plate, but he didn’t even blink. She had to wave her arms to get his attention.
“Is something bothering you?” she asked with concern.
He told her he was just tired because he didn’t get enough sleep the previous night.
“So who kept you up?” she teased.
He went slightly red in the face and swore that it wasn’t anything like that.
“I was binge-watching shorts on YouTube and lost track of time,” he lied.
The truth was that his mind had been too occupied contemplating all the things Archimedes had said to him the other night. Suddenly, Scarlett asked if he wanted to go see a movie that weekend. Kenneth brought up that Valentine’s Day was coming that weekend.
“Yeah I know,” she said, “we can go another time if you have plans with someone,”
“No, I don’t have any plans,” he replied sheepishly.
“Cool! Then we should totally Netflix and Chill,” she said matter-of-factly.
Kenneth almost choked on the cola he was sipping. She burst into giggles and told him she was just kidding.
“On a serious note, let’s watch a thriller or something gruesome,” she suggested.
He looked at her nervously and built up the courage to ask if it was going to be a date. She bit her lip and sighed. Kenneth assumed she was anxious and that it would really break her heart if he said no.
“Do you want it to be a date?” she asked him with a poker face.
He stammered as he told her that was exactly what he wanted. In his mind, he was furious that Archimedes had been right about everything; he was stuck in an awkward position. She gazed at him peculiarly and what she said next blew his mind.
“I think we shouldn’t see each other for a while,” were her exact words.
Kenneth was bewildered as she further added that she wasn’t interested in that type of relationship. She only saw him as a very good friend and she desired nothing more. She apologized to him in case her response grieved or offended him in any way. He tried to clarify things but she didn’t give him the chance to say his side of the story. She assured him that he was a very nice guy and any girl would be lucky to have him in her life.
“I hope you understand and harbor no hard feelings,” she said decisively.
“Of course,” nodded Kenneth.
As she left, he wasn’t sure whether to feel relieved or ashamed for making a fool of himself; nonetheless, he regretted losing her as a friend. He realized that he had brought it upon himself by listening to Archimedes. Then he remembered that he had the tendency to screw up things even when he didn’t listen to his best friend.
“I’m such a loser,” he mumbled to himself.
Scarlett stared blankly at the television screen. She was wearing her favorite turquoise pajamas and held a half-full jar of ‘Nutella’ in one hand, and a tall spoon in the other. She was sad to let go of Kenneth who was the only nice person and friend she knew in the city. Still, she realized it was the right thing to do, as she couldn’t handle being involved with another guy.
She’d found the perfect guy a while ago and screwed it up big time. Her eyes got teary as memories of “William” flashed through her mind – her high school sweetheart.
William was a sophomore and Scarlett was a freshman when the two met in high school. Each of them was the top student of their respective batches, and one could call them the classic geeks. William was quite the shy type and hardly ever spoke to girls. Scarlett had her eyes on him since the very first day of high school and he seemed like the sole person who could compete with her wits. She also thought he was cute and someone she could rely on.
He went to work at a grocery store after school and she got a job there too, just to get close to him. She would never give up a chance to start a conversation with him. At first, he was fidgety and reserved, but he couldn’t resist her warm and charming personality for long. The two had a lot in common and she was the first girl he actually enjoyed talking to.
They had been friends for only a few months when Scarlett proposed him to be her boyfriend. The two were sitting side by side, playing a video game at William’s house when she leaned and planted a kiss on his cheek.
“Will you be my boyfriend William?” she blurted out unexpectedly.
He was taken aback by the proposal and dropped his game console in shock. He looked at her wide-eyed for a minute as if he wasn’t sure that she was serious or pranking him. She repeated the question, as she took his hands in hers. His face flushed bright pink and at a snail’s pace, he nodded ‘yes’. What followed was the best high school love story ever and the two became inseparable.
William was raised singlehandedly by his mom, and he loved her immensely. During senior year, his mom was diagnosed with a brain tumor and the doctor said she hardly had a year or two to live. By graduation, two Ivy League colleges accepted William, but he couldn’t leave behind his sick mom. He stayed to take care of her and continued working at the grocery store. Scarlett stood by him through thick and thin, supporting him in every way possible.
The following year she too graduated from high school with flying colors and William’s mom passed away. The two decided to start college together that year. They applied to most of the same places and were sure that they wouldn’t have problems getting accepted at a common venue, given their brilliant academic records. Their intuition was right and both received acceptance letters from Yale.
However, circumstances changed and Scarlett wanted to run as far away from William as possible. A few days before getting the letter, she discovered that she was pregnant with his child. This made her fret like crazy and she didn’t know what to do. She couldn’t tell William because she knew he would never flee from such a responsibility. He would sacrifice everything for this child and for her.
Becoming a teen mom was not what Scarlett wanted; she couldn’t let her pregnancy compromise a bright future for William and herself. She had dreams and there was so much she wanted to achieve in life. Being a parent at this stage of life was not part of the plan. Without consulting anyone, she made an appointment with an abortion clinic.
There were complications and the doctor told her that she would never be able to conceive again if she decides to go through with the procedure; yet, she didn’t change her mind and got it done.
Afterward, she couldn’t look William in the eye. There was no way she could keep the truth from him, whilst facing him every day. She chose to change paths so that he would never find out about the baby. She lied that she never received an acceptance letter from Yale and insisted that he go without her, but he refused.
“You can’t miss out on Yale,” she cried, “it’s an opportunity of a lifetime,”
“Any college is good as long as you are there with me,” he said adamantly.
Eventually, Scarlett realized that her persuasive arguments were going nowhere and she had to switch to plan B. She told William that she didn’t want to be with him anymore. He didn’t take her words seriously until she looked him straight in the eyes and said it ruthlessly. He had never seen her like that before. His face turned pale and his skin went cold when she yelled out that she was sick of him and wanted out.
“Just go to Yale and move on,” she begged, “Please leave me alone!”
He didn’t argue or question anything after that. He told her she wouldn’t hear from him ever again if that was what she wanted.
“That’s exactly what I want,” she confirmed sternly.
It was hard for Scarlett to keep a straight face in his presence but she held herself together. As soon as he left, she locked herself in her room and broke down into tears. He kept his promise and never bothered her again. She heard he’d gone to Yale and was doing well, which gave her heart some satisfaction; she hoped that he would forget all about her and lead a blissful life.
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