Maybe it was almost a love story during the days when I was all fuzzed up with his light brown eyes. When I loved that he loved Star Wars and Marvel like I did. When we were up until 3 am texting; when time was so slow it almost stops and I could escape from the city’s frantic memory. But it wasn’t a love story, at least not for him.
It was a typical boy-next-door-meets-girl story; or in this case, in the elevator of the residence building where we lived in. I’ve only been living in that building for 5 months, my family had to move from the suburbs because our school was 45 minutes away and it was in the city. We always bumped into each other in the mall, the tea shop, the lobby, and of course the elevator. I first noticed him one Saturday morning after a morning jog at the park. He was sitting on the lobby couch and I came in all sweaty with my cheeks all red from the exhilarating jog. My eyes were closed while I wiped my face with my towel when I heard a phone camera’s snap. I quickly looked over to his direction and I knew he took my photo. The elevator doors opened and we both got in without talking. That was the first time I noticed him.
A few months passed and we crossed paths almost every day after school at the lobby and he was always with his identical twin. At first glance you wouldn’t notice the differences with their physical features, but as you looked closer, you could say that one looked smarter, while the other looked more athletic. The twin who always smiled at me has a mole on his upper lip; the other just always looked away. You’d sense their connection when they’re together, their presence was vaguely intimidating. It attacked me strongly enough to not even dare say "Hello". But I was never like that with any guy before; I’ve always been a straightforward person. I’d tell a guy I like him if I really do, but at that point, I was hoping he’d be the one to tell me first.
Summer came and the city was crazy with parties, camps, and workshops but I attended none. One night while I was walking to buy myself some milk tea, I saw him sitting on one corner of the tea shop listening to his iPod. I continued to walk past him and chose to sit on the table across him and made sure my back was facing his so he would not notice I was there. But then he turned around and I saw a hand over my right shoulder. He asked me to shake it and he told me his name. Smooth right? Real smooth. He asked if he could sit on the other end of my table and I weirdly said no. I told him I’m just waiting for my milk tea and I’ll be leaving soon. So we continued to chat even though we weren’t facing each other. That was the first time we talked. We walked home together too, while listening to one song that was on replay in his iPod: Zedd’s Clarity. Believe me, I hate that song now.
The first time we kissed? It was the first time he also told me liked me. It has been a few weeks of just hanging out every day until 10pm, roaming around the city, swimming; we were crazy together. He was gentle, he was fun, he was amazingly smart, and he was an asshole. He talked about his twin a lot when it was silent between us. I asked him why his twin doesn’t hang out with us and he told me that his twin was a little more introverted than he was but that he was devilishly crazy too.
“I like you a lot; you’re different from all the other girls I’ve met. No pretensions. You’re raw, honest, beautiful but-“ and I kissed him first. I couldn’t help myself that time. Every inch our skin gets closer my insides burned with desire. I could've melted during that time; people didn’t care we kissed at the park’s platform. Just two teenagers kissing for the first time, slow, tender, and sweet. I liked him too. I liked him a lot. He’d be perfect for me. We would’ve been perfect. If only our fondness grew into love.
Two more months together.
I counted days before going back to school, things will be different. I knew it. But I wasn’t expecting something that hurt so much it caused collateral damage to break us apart. His twin came back from summer camp; we haven’t seen each other for days. He always made excuses that some part of his body was aching, that he was out with his friends, or that he was out of town. It was okay, we texted and exchanged phone calls even when we couldn’t see each other. But I knew there was something off, I could feel him from the other end of the line, something wasn’t okay.
He told me he couldn’t handle our relationship.
“I see someone else in you, rather, I see someone else better for you. That can’t be me. I’m sorry.” I didn’t cry in front of him. I couldn’t. I can’t ever undress my emotions to someone who wouldn’t show what he really feels. I don’t need to cry in front of someone who’s scared enough or maybe who never did care enough. You can’t create something beautiful and then just leave it withering on its own.
We broke up.
The truth was, I fell for the wrong twin. You know how identical twins can always try to switch classes and never go noticed? They can easily escape with that switching classes trick. But you can’t ever switch hearts. Because you’ll end up losing both. All this time, his twin was the one who liked me first, the one who noticed me first while I was reading a book in the mall bookstore. His twin was the first one who knew what my favorite milk tea drink was; his twin timed their arrival in the lobby in the afternoon so he’d get to catch me after school, daring to say hello. But he was too shy that he asked his twin to do the getting-to-know-you work for him. The whole time his twin was in summer camp, the other tried to hook me up with his twin but then he never really thought that he’d like me back too.
Of course, he can’t choose the girl over his brother right?
So he decided to end it with me.
While his twin tried to replace him, with his little efforts, my heart can’t possibly fall for another.
My heart knew the difference between two identities, my soul knew who to connect and dance with.
“If we’re meant to be together someday, God will make a way for us.” He told me, and it replayed in my head again and again as months passed. Clarity was making the charts, it was playing everywhere, and I crumbled. I hate the almosts.
Then I left the country.
illustration by Maxine Velasco