The next day, Chrixa is absent. This is not good. I know something’s wrong with her and I know it’s my fault. It happened many times before. If she’s really pissed with something or someone, the next day she just won’t go to school. I thought that attitude of hers was gone when we turned high school but as I recall she’s not really that pissed throughout those years. Her most recent anger record was yesterday and the last record of it before yesterday was when we’re on 6th grade! And I don’t want to recall why. I’m blaming that Hugh guy now. I’m blaming that “L” thing! Why does it keep on ruining things for me? And now my best friend as well!
Mort: I just asked her who this guy is and because I didn’t really listen properly when she said the name, she got pissed.
It was recess time and I’m sharing what happened yesterday to the Gang – Lance, Jake, Daniel and Mike. If I can’t think of anything to do by myself, I just cry for my friends’ help. They might know how to turn this thing around.
Mike: So, who is this guy?
Mort: I don’t know if you know him but you have to promise me not to tell anyone, even Chrixa.
They all promised. I can trust them, I guess. They never break a promise and they sure will get what they’ll deserve if they spread the secret to the class.
Mort: Well, the guy’s name is…
I look around making sure no one’s eavesdropping.
Their faces twist with confusion.
Jake: Who’s Hugh? Like, Hugh Jackman?
Mort: Yeah, something like that…I think.
Daniel: I don’t know anyone whose named Hugh.
Daniel said, scratching his head.
Mike: Me too. I don’t recall meeting anyone who has that name.
Lance: Hmm… There might be a Hugh in the campus but…
Lance grabs my shoulder.
Lance: Mort, how exactly did Chrixa say it?
Everyone eyes Lance, a brow raised.
Mort: Is that really necessary?
Lance is serious. That means his in detective mode.
Lance: Just tell me!
He takes his eyeglasses from the pocket on her shirt and wears it. Yep. Detective mode is on.
Daniel, Jake, Mike and I look at each other. Then I look at Lance and tell him how the whole thing went.
I told him about how I didn’t really hear it and how Chrixa’s face looked like it was ready to explode. He’s even asking me the details. Like what happened after the explosion, how Chrixa treated me while I walk her home, Auntie Jane’s reaction and comment, etcetera.
Then after that he thought for about 5 minutes. His eyeglasses we’re flashing like he’s a real great detective.
He was mumbling, thinking, faced me, smiles, and…
The rest of us are bewildered by his laughter, which got louder and louder by the minute.
Mort: What’s so funny?
His laugh is making me smile too.
Mort: You know who Hugh is?
He laughs even harder.
Jake: C’mon Lance! Share!
Mort: Who’s Hugh?
Lance repeats while pointing at me, emphasizing the name. He laughs again, stops, and holds my shoulder.
Lance: Chrixa’s very unlucky to have a bestfriend like you Mort. You’re so stupid!
And there he goes again.
Mort: I know, I should’ve listened properly and reacted accordingly, but just tell us who he is!
Lance is stopping himself from laughing any harder and tries to catch his breath.
He places both his hands on my shoulders.
Lance: Chrixa has a crush on Hugh.
He said, as if making things clear.
Mort: Yes, I know that, but I don’t know who Hugh is. So tell us!
Lance laughs but only for awhile this time.
Lance: Mort, not H-U-G-H Hugh, it’s Y-O-U you!
He grabs my face.
Lance: You Mort! YOU!
Then he continues laughing.
At first I didn’t really understand what he said, but as my mind processed it, the events yesterday replayed in my mind:
Me forcing Chrixa to tell me who her crush is. Her sweat pouring down as she gathered courage to say it. Me getting anxious which caused me not to hear her say the name.
Suddenly something snapped inside me.
It was never a name.
I then remember how red she was yesterday as she said-
Jake is pointing at me, eyes wide. I can’t really tell if his eyes widen in surprise or excitement. Maybe both.
Mike: Mort! Chrixa!
Mike shakes me.
Mike: I knew it would come to a point like this. I knew it. I knew it!
He was so happy.
Lance: Yeah! And Mort is so stupid to not get it immediately.
Lance let’s go of my face.
Lance: I thought you were an expert on detecting admiration signs. I thought wrong.
My insides are acting funny. My mind’s going haywire.
Is the first thing that came out of me.
Suddenly I feel chills running down my spine. I remember something.
Mort: Oh no…
I feel grim.
Jake: You’re screwed.
My eyes slowly widen.
Mort: …because I remember…she said…
My eyes couldn’t get any wider as I recall what Chrixa said yesterday.
Mort: …it’s not just a crush…
Small tears are slowly forming in my eyes
Mort: …she said…
Mort: …it’s something more big.
Lance: It’s the ‘L’ thing!
Lance says in a high-pitched tone then covers his mouth as if what he just uttered was taboo.
Jake: You are screwed.
Mike: Chrixa’s in love with you!
Mike’s face showered with fascination.
I’m just staring straight as my mind slowly clearing things inside. My heart though, is in pain. My palms find it’s way over it.
I said in a whisper still wide-eyed. But then I shake my head.
Mort: This is not right!
Something that I fear the most just happened.
Mike: Oh I don’t think she’d want to hear that from you.
Mort: She’s my best friend, Mike! I don’t want her to be…even if…
The pain in my chest locked my tongue.
Daniel: Karen’s my best friend too, you know.
Jake: Oh, admit it Mort.
Jake pats my shoulder.
Jake: You feel the same way for her.
Mort: I-I do l-love her…
A pang of pain consumes my heart.
Mort: She’s my best friend! And I’m afraid! Afraid of –
Daniel: Afraid of what? Falling in love again?
Mort: Yes! And..
I feel cold.
Mort: …I’m afraid for her.
I shake my head. Gotta shake away this pain in my heart and the tangle in my brain.
Mort: I don’t know about this.
I reject what Lance just said.
Mort: This is just a theory! What Lance said is not proven yet.
Which is actually true.
Mort: There’s probably a person out there whose name is Hugh. We’re not sure yet so let’s not settle on this one theory.
The bell rang, signaling the start of the next class.
Lance: Well, you have to ask her if you wanna make it sure, Mort.
Lance said patting my back and went back to his chair.
Daniel: You might be right that it’s not proven yet but what if it’s true. You have to be ready for that.
Daniel pats my back and heads for his chair. Mike and Jake does the same but wordless. My mind suddenly flashes back to the moment Auntie Jane patted my head and wishing me luck.
Does she now?
I shake my head.
No! It’s just a theory!
That afternoon, my mind was flying somewhere else. Chrixa couldn’t be in love with me. She said many times, I’m not her type. But then I realize Chrixa lies to me so much. I shake my head again. I shouldn’t entertain this possibility. What if it’s really just an assumption? What if there really is a Hugh out there? I can’t let this thought ruin what I have with Chrixa. I need to make it sure by asking her tomorrow.