I’m not in love, not even like

It was the first day of school. I take a deep breath as I walk towards the school gates. It was the first day and yet it’s so noisy!

My name is Mort Vurlock and I’m on my final year on high school, that’s why hearing this kind of noise makes my head hurt so bad. Being a senior made me mature, which means, now I dislike noises.

I don’t like the sophomores that shout “Hey!” and “Whoa!” as they see their past classmates. I also don’t like those juniors that talk like machine guns. Even the senior girls that shriek as they see their girl friends and bump me as they run towards each other and hug.

I sigh.

Why couldn’t they be just like this freshman kid who walks quietly by my side, politely smiling to anyone he meets. I understand it’s the first day but can’t they just keep it down a notch? Oh well. They probably just miss each other so much. But still, it’s not cool to be noisy.

My head suddenly went up in the clouds. A lot has happened last year that are just too painful to recall. I take a deep breath. “Be cool, man, be cool.” I say to myself. “It’s the first day. Don’t ruin it!

With that said, I fixed my quiff hairstyle with my hand. The hair wax that I applied this morning still holds it up so I felt fine. It’s been my hairstyle for as long as I can remember and changing it makes me feel like I’m out of character. I did change it last year and there’s not a day that I regret ever doing so.

“Mort!”

A voice called me from behind. I turn to see her.

As expected, my best friend, Chrixa Sun, is running towards me. She’s been my bestfriend for 12 years so I expected her face to be the usual untidy look. But as I look at her, my eyes widen.

Her hair, which always been hanging from her head unattended and craggy is now shiny, smooth and pony-tailed. I can tell that she had it trimmed a bit since the swaying hair from the rubber band that holds it is not that long. Her skin is fairer now too! Which made me doubt that they had their vacation this summer on a beach resort. What made me almost laugh at the sight of her, though, was her light red lipstick which never, ever, in our whole existence, that I’ve seen her wear one. Heck! She even hated wearing lipstick! But here she is wearing one! The last thing I noticed was her eyes. She had her eyelids lined with a thin black eyeliner.

Mort: Chrixa? Is that you?

I’m barely managing to stop my urge to laugh. I find her ultimate change extremely fascinating.

She stops in front of me, raising her left eyebrow. I didn’t actually take it seriously when she said she would change this year. My hands clutch my stomach in an effort to suppress my snickers.

Chrixa: Who else do you think, stupid?

I cringe at the word ‘stupid’. I quickly transition from someone who is humorous to someone who is offended.

Mort: So that’s how you greet me on the first day?

I shake my head, cross my arms, and walks away from her. This might be a perfect time for an acting showdown. I managed to get a glimpse of her face as it slowly take a worried look, which meant she accepts the challenge.

Chrixa: Mort, I was just kidding.

Her face painting an exaggerated worried look.

Mort: No, you meant it!

I face her and acted as angry as I can. She flinched and started looking vulnerable.

Chrixa: Mort, I’m sorry…

I stop too. Now her eyes are starting to form tears. She didn’t even mind that it’ll ruin her makeup. I suddenly got nervous, not because I made a girl cry but because she’s about to do IT!

In the past, we always trick each other through acting. She always pranks me and I prank her back. Over the years of doing it again and again, it has become our tradition to do it in special events. In this case, at least for me, is her ultimate change in looks. I’m good at it but mostly she wins which is really annoying! I thought I was winning now but I have to do my best to alter the situation. I don’t wanna be defeated though, so I did the only possible route for now, I smile and tell her in the sweetest way,

“Hey don’t cry! I was just kidding too!”

It was the biggest smile I could ever possibly do. I need to change her mind before she –

“I’M SORRY MORT!!”

She bawled! Every student near us cranes their necks towards her and me. I gulp. She’s definitely doing IT! She’s going to do the ULTIMATE ACT! Normal acting is fine. I can keep up with it. But when she starts to cry, and act hysterical, that’s when it gets really scary.

Chrixa: I didn’t mean to hurt you because of what I’ve said! I was just kidding Mort!!

Mort: Chrixa…

I’m still trying to persuade her not do it, but I have an inkling feeling that it’s just approaching its highest peak.

Mort: …the students are looking at us now…

Then I see some familiar faces. Oh no, please not them! Now it’s really gonna erupt into madness! More audience for her is great motivation! Especially if the audiences are THEM.

Mike, Jake, Lance and Daniel are approaching. Those guys! Not those guys! My eyes widen as I see them coming.

Mort: Oh no, Chrish, please stop! I’m begging you! Please stop!

I say in a low and desperately pleading voice. I don’t care about winning now.

Chrixa: MORT! I’M SORRY!

She knows they’re coming.

Mort: Chrixa, I forgive you now. Please, just stop it!

I say that but the hope of being able to persuade her to stop the ultimate act has left me. There’s no stopping her now.

Chrixa’s topnotch acting brought most of the crowd’s attention to us. Freshmen, sophomores, juniors, seniors, even the parents that just happen to bring their kids to school stopped to witness the show. Mrs. Tubao is here too. She’s been our History teacher for three years now and also our current adviser. She knows what’s happening and learned that the best way to deal with it is to enjoy the show.

Chrixa stops wailing after a huge number of crowd surrounded us. She then wipes her genuine-looking tears, smearing her eyeliner. It amazes me how she sacrificed her new look this early in the morning just to humiliate me.

Chrixa: (sob) Really? (sob) Prove it!

Mort: W-What?!

I hate it when I have to prove it, especially now that most of the people passing by are actually stopping and staring at us! I know she’s gonna use this opportunity to her advantage.

Those four guys are here as well. I can tell that they saw Chrixa’s change and wanted to react to it but they figured they should wait. They’re just standing half a meter from where we are. My sweat pours down my face. They’re waiting for the perfect moment to join in the fun. I just ignore them and asks Chrixa.

Mort: H-How?

Chrixa: Shout ‘I LOVE YOU’ to me.

My heart jumped in rage.

Using the “L” thing against me! She knew what I’ve been through last year because of that thing! I know that in a fight you should use the opponent’s weaknesses. But –

Mort: What?! Are you out of your –

Chrixa: MORT! I’M REALLY SORRY! I wasn’t a good girlfriend! Please don’t leave me! Please tell me you still love me! Please, Mort!”

I almost choke on my own spit when the ‘girlfriend part’ came up. She’s hitting me below the belt! I want to cry for foul but I manage to lower my rage and just take a deep breath. I need to keep it cool. People are staring at us.

I can accept the “L” part, but the girlfriend part?! What’s she doing?! I look around. If I do something stupid, it’ll back fire on me. I need to think about this. I’ve been in situations like this before. I just need to go with it. JUST NEED TO GO WITH IT!!

Mort: Ok…ok! I’ll do it! Stop!

Chrixa stops and wipes away her fresh, crocodile tears. Her eyeliners are really smeared now. She’s a very good actress! And I hate it!

A huge number of crowd is surrounding us now. Prolonging this will just make it more painful in my part so I face her and force a smile. She knows what that means.

“I’m really gonna kill you later.” I say in my thoughts.

If she actually noticed the promise of revenge in my eyes, there wasn’t any physical indication. Curse her acting skills.

Mort: Chrish…

My eyes dart around the audience. I caught a glimpse of Mike, Jake, Lance and Daniel who are just staring at us. Which do not make me feel any better.

I look at Chrixa. Her eyes are covered with tears. The people around us sending pitiful glances at her whilst glaring daggers at me. I raise an eyebrow. If there was a person the audience should pity, it should be me.

Mort: Chrixa.

I needed to speak up.

Mort: I…

“They’re just words! Just words!” I say in my mind. “Say it! Say it and be done with this!”

Mort: Iloveyou.

That didn’t come out right. I know she’s not going to be satisfied about it.

Chrixa: What? I didn’t hear you! Shout!

She orders with matching hand gestures which really pissed me off. With her pretend sobs and mock pitiful face, it’s really convincing the audience that this whole chaos is real and not an acting showdown! But I need to end this. So I collected what’s left of my humility and decided to just spit out the words.

Mort: I Laaaav you!

But still, I can’t say it properly. For me, it’s the most dangerous phrase in the world. She knows it too, which really infuriates me.

Chrixa: W-what?

She turns to Mike and Jake, sending them the most vulnerable look she could manage.

Chrixa: Hey! Can you hear him?

Yep! Now she’s calling for their help. Surprising.

Mike: No.

Jake: Hey dude!

Jake nudges me.

Jake: Shout! Look at the girl, man.

As expected, they’re playing along. They always take Chrixa’s side when it comes to our little acting showdown. I gave a silent snort. Some friends they are.

And then I hear Lance talking to a girl beside him.

Lance: I would never do that to my girlfriend. Humiliating her in a crowd like this, that guy’s cruel, right?

The girl nodded while he jabs his thumb at my direction. As if he has a girlfriend.

Daniel talks to another stranger, slinging his arm around the person’s shoulder in a friendly manner and utters in a pitying and dramatic tone,

Daniel: I pity the girl. All she wanted was love. That guy’s a jerk, right?

They got most of the crowd convinced I was the bad guy here, moments later they were giving me insults. Lance then initiates a chant that sends most of the crowd go,

“Shout! Shout! Shout!”

Great, like I needed any more motivation.

I can hear them say many things.

“C’mon, man…say it!”

“They are just words.”

“Why did you even court her if you’d do this to her?”

“Be a man!”

And here I am thinking I was doing great with my acting. Now I’m totally regretting ever starting all this. All hope is lost. My mind has gone fuzzy to the point that the voices started to fade and the whole world slowed down. I gave in. I just need to finish this.

I take a deep breath. Loud and long enough to silence the audience around us.

I look at Chrixa in the eyes. I grit my teeth. I just have to do this.

Mort: I…

And suddenly my heart forgets the anger and pretends for a moment that Chrixa was really my girlfriend. I look at her, examining every detail on her face. Her delicate hands, which I decided to hold, for effect. Her smooth, black, pony-tailed hair. Her fair skin. Her light red lips. And her beautiful brown eyes. Even with tears and her eyeliner smeared, she looks so amazingly beautiful. With that, the words came out in a way that, I’m very much confident, Chrixa and the audience would really be satisfied with.

“I love you.”

Everyone paused. I felt a sudden warmth inside as I look at Chrixa. Her face, surprised by the genuineness of my delivery. I then add with a smile.

Mort: There. I’ve said it.

And fixing the side of her left hair, so slides through the back of her left ear, with my hand and wiping her tears, I say in the sweetest way I can,

“Happy?”

It’s the first time I did something like that to her. It felt weird. But the audience bought it as romantic so it’s good. Now she’ll stop.

The silence remained for another 10 seconds. Mike, Daniel, Jake and Lance were stunned. They didn’t think I could do it.

When the second’s up, everyone just went,

“WOHOO!”

Every person around us rejoices. Even those who didn’t know us rejoiced too. Some shook their heads though and walked away. Mrs. Tubao cried which surprised me. She’s definitely not going to stop teasing us about this. I’m pretty sure she’s moved by how great my acting is.

This would be a hot topic around the campus, I’m sure of it. And the versions of it aren’t going to be pretty.

Chrixa hugs me. I flinch.

Chrixa: I love you too, Mort.

Hearing that made the whole part of me go back to reality. I look at Chrixa and I see only two things:

Horns protruding from her forehead.

Suddenly my anger resurfaces.

Chrixa notices it so she slowly slips from my clutches and runs at full speed towards our classroom. She knows that I was gonna give her the knucklehead of a lifetime. It has always been my punishment to her after she does something really wrong. It’s also the only thing that I can do for revenge.

She sticks her tongue out as she faces me after creating a huge distance between us.

Mort: Chrixa! Get back here!

“KRIIIIIIING!”

The bell rang.

Now everyone, as if forgetting the epic moment of my defeat, started pushing me around as they run towards their classrooms. Mike, Daniel, Lance and Jake disappeared right away too! Not a sight of even their shadows. I was the last one who was able to run because I had to help the freshman kid from earlier to stand up as he was pushed too.

I’m never going to forget what just happened. I’ll never forget what she did to me. I know she’s been doing something like this every year but this time it crossed the line! Did she think she can simply get away with this? Oh no. She won’t.

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