by Samantha Collins
“What is Love?”
Mrs. Bastet makes the statement as she writes it on her whiteboard.
Being one of the only teachers left in the tri-county area
that refuses to use technology, all of us were forced to actually pay attention in her literature class. I, of course, have no problem with it.
I don’t mind reading the works rather than
looking up the summaries like the rests of my peers. As if I need to read Romeo and Juliet another time to be able to discuss literally every point in it.
I’m thinking about deciding to just skip this class for the
next couple of days. Maybe go out to eat somewhere at lunch and just not return. Skip straight to my leaving for early release.
I need a break
and I obviously don’t need to be here if it’s just another telling of the classic.
I had almost made up my mind to stay away
when I hear her repeat her question. “What is love?” She is met with an almost deafening silence.
“So you’re basically implying that none of you, whom I hear
some say ‘I love you’ almost everyday, none of you can tell me what love is?” I am intrigued. The silence is either thought provoking or rather disheartening.
I look across the room,
at all the people shaking their heads, as if they aren’t sure what to say to answer her question.
Finally, a small girl in the back row raises her hand.
“It’s a feeling of deep affection for someone or something.” Mrs. Bastet turns and practically glares at the girl. “Is that all?”
She glances at the rest of the room and settles on me,
her favorite student. “Is that all it is to you?”
“No, it’s mor-” I begin but can’t find the words to continue
when I feel his eyes on me. I am suddenly reminded that it's week number two of not speaking to him. My throat tightens and I can feel the tears begin to form in my eyes.
I give up on what I was going to say and hurriedly finish.
“Would you care to explain?” I turn and look at my teacher
and shake my head that I can’t, silently hoping she understands. Fortunately for me, the bell rings right as she goes to speak.
As students rush out of the door and on to their next class,
or in some cases, home, she calls out to begin reading Romeo and Juliet for class tomorrow.
I rush to my Jeep, completely forgetting to stop by
my locker in my haste. Being too lazy to venture back into my daily nightmare, I am planning having to get up earlier than normal in the morning. Which means even more torture.
I drive to the cafe, being extra careful. Knowing that in my
hectic state of mind any small mistake could mean life or death for me or anyone else on the road. I pull into to the parking lot and reach into the back to grab my shirt and apron.
A small smile graces my lips as I see the beautiful patterns
Jess and I drew on my apron with the fabric markers we found in Mom’s old stuff yesterday.
I stride through the front door, eager to see the look on
Carrie's face when she even thinks about daring to speak up about my new decoration. But stopping dead in my tracks when I see James leaning casually against the counter.
I glance in the reflective window as I pass,
praying that I’m not still disheveled from the awkward moment in class earlier. I walk right past him and think fervently about ignoring him when he calls my name as I know he will.
Yet I know it’s useless.
One word and I will be back to the old me. The girl who practically begged to be near him. Only then I didn't have to plead for attention, because it was already mine.
As is employee policy I have to respond to him. It doesn’t say anything about having to be enthusiastic about it. I try not to think about the fact that I missed hearing his voice and reply.
“Hi, How may I help you?”
I don’t even have to ask before entering his favorite drink.One large caramel latte with extra caramel. I listen as he says it anyway. And struggle to force myself to turn from talking to him
and make the beverage.
I turn and set the drink on the counter in front of him, “That would be $3.48. Enjoy the rest of your day.”
He stops seemingly thinking about what exactly to say to make me listen. Not realizing that I’m going to no matter what he says. And that’s when I realize it.
I know what love is. It’s everything and at the same time
nothing at all. It may be different for everyone. But it pretty much always is the one person who can make you laugh even when you’re on the verge of tears.
But not necessarily every time you’re upset.
Because you need someone to just understand that it’s okay to be sad. Or maybe it’s the way that even after you’ve been hurt, they still command your attention just by their very presence.
Or staying up for hours to talk to said person
because any little topic of conversation with them is important enough to you to keep you awake at night.
It’s when you fight and argue and realize even after all of
that you still couldn’t live without the other person. It’s when you apologize and let go of the things that make you so mad because of that reason.
It’s loving them so much that
words can’t even begin to describe what you feel.
I walk out from around the counter and hug him,
taking him by complete surprise. He is my love. And it sounds crazy coming from someone who barely has her life together, but he is the glue.
And without it I’m nothing but a big mess
just waiting for the right moment to fall apart. “I missed you, James.” He finally hugs me back.
“I missed you too, Liz.”