Year 2000

Aric Segura. The fifteen-year-old with soulful eyes and that gelled hair styled in the haircut of that time; the Caesar hairstyle. A bit on the smallish side, he walked on campus with the nonchalant air of a typical ninth grader. I knew nothing about his intellect or his personality; he could’ve been a dunce, a school clown, or a nerd. It didn’t matter. Even with the acne scars and braces on his teeth, he was beautiful. And I was content to stare at him from across the cafeteria.

Chin propped on my hands, I let out a sigh as he laughed over a friend’s joke. “I bet he’s funny.”

You’re funny, you creep,” my friend IB, ribbing me over me staring at Aric again.

I offered no excuse, didn’t need to. She knew he was my first crush, and those are always foolish and nonsensical; insert heart-eye emoji.

I sighed once more as Aric stole a fry from his friend’s plate. “You know we made eye contact today, on Hallway B.”

She snorted. “Honestly, you should win some award for waiting so long to like someone… But why did it have to be him? He’s not all that.”

I interrupted my gazing to glare at her. “You’re not all that.”

“Oooh, debo! Great one,” she teased, unaffected by my deathly glare. “I’m so hurt.”

Rolling my eyes, I returned my attention to Aric—except he was no longer sitting, instead walking out of the cafeteria with his friends in tow. One in particular, a slender Hispanic girl, curved her arm under his and snuggled close. I squinted in displeasure.

“Looks like he has a girlfriend…” IB muttered, watching Aric exit with his posse.

For the first time, I cursed the edict my parents established; the non-dating rule until age 21. I was just fourteen—turning fifteen in a few months, and had no way of getting Aric’s attention.

“Just confess like other people,” encouraged Bev, my other friend after I complained to her after school that week. She was much bolder and had her fair share of confessions. She was an expert and I the flailing novice.

And when I had to move schools on my birthday month, I had to say my forlorn goodbyes to an unknowing Aric who was probably not aware of my existence. I stood in the middle of Hallway B, waiting and watching for him to look my way once more. And as he simply walked past, not once shifting his gaze from his female companion, I smiled sadly and made my way to class once last time before moving.

I never thanked Aric Segura for awakening my heart to curiosity over the male species…

He’s probably wearing his hair in the trendiest style and his face is probably clear from acne but now sporting a stylish beard. Who knows if he’s a banker or a scientist or a father…?

In any case, Aric, thank you.

<<Title Page ||  Chapter 2>>