The reason friendship turns into love is that it wasn’t just friendship at the first place. Something more special. Something more divergent from the average phenomenon. You don’t need love to enter a realm of friendship. But you need friendship to be in love. Leave it. Too much entangled.

It’s surprising how known faces turn into outlanders real quick. Maybe some of them weren’t so alien. I just couldn’t match the names in my head with those faces. Until I came across the one.

“Aww! Happy 7 months cuchiepuchie!” one of my old classmates said as she caressed Emilia’s pregnant belly. Emilia was the toast of the room with the so called cheerleader gang surrounding her and complimenting because of being pregnant. Why? All you need to do is moan and enjoy the roller coaster. Oh let me rephrase that. All you need to do is enjoy the horse riding jaunt. The horse which doesn’t give you a feeling that you are riding, perhaps.

I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that. But I would still say that a hundred more times and say I’m sorry a hundred more times.

Emilia was still the most alluring figure in the room, despite being pregnant. Her strings of hair across her ears made her look innocent than ever. Maybe I am grateful for getting invited to this alumni reunion. Those April memories were floating like a speedboat.

10 years ago

Last year of high school. Some were busy making memories. Some were busy with college applications. Some were busy getting sentimental. Emilia and I were making plans of how we’d keep in touch when we would get separated.

“Come on, we are best friends and nobody can ever change that.” She said.

“Indeed.” I said as I hugged her.

“So are you coming to prom tonight?”

“I am. I don’t have a date though. How about you?”

“Yeah I’m coming with Jason.”

I don’t understand. I swear on John Oliver’s name that I was not in love with her. But what about those prickles? What about those feelings that I kept buried and never answered myself? Maybe it was just jealousy. What a demonic trait I carried in my heart. I couldn’t see my best friend happy with Jason.

I got ready in my favorite tuxedo, along with a rose in my pocket. Come on, I could be one of those old-fashioned hopelessly romantic characters you see in movie. I didn’t actually need a date. I danced with three pretty ladies and flirted with one of them. Then happened what no other batch ever faced. The lights turned off. But before any announcements were made about this prom getting cancelled, everyone kept doing their stuff. The candles had painted a different picture. Certainly, this candle light prom was heartwarming.

Before taking a sip of soda, I saw Emilia, dressed in yellow. In this dim hall, her skin was glowing like the sparkling sea under the scorching sun. My best friend looked alluring than anyone in that room. She was upset about something. Yes, Jason did not show up.

“Hey you.”

“Hey there Pete.”

“Well probably he got busy with something. Don’t be upset.”

“Not now. I don’t need explanations.”

“Alright do you want to dance with me?”

Before giving her the proper time to reply with a nod, I took her hand and pulled her towards me. Her dress sparkled as the light reflected on it. I took the rose from my pocket and gave it to her.

“Thank you buddy.”

“You’re welcome, date.” I said as she giggled a bit.

With one hand on her waist and one hand another fondling her hair, I took a deep breath as I smelled her. It was not long before she pulled my bowtie across her face and asked me, “Will you be like Jason?”

“Never.”

The next few seconds were surrounded by our amorous kiss. The one that destiny waited for. That spring prom is still one of the most attractive memory sewed in my brain. That was enough to fall in love and regret why it didn’t happen to us earlier. Because everything has a perfect moment. Unfortunately, our moment was back then, when things were coming to an end.

The next few months passed like a dream. It was a long time in those reveries, but reality was faster. We didn’t have to knock anymore before coming into each other’s room. We didn’t have to maintain a distance anymore. We didn’t have to be two best friends who loved each other but unaware of it themselves.

“Emilia. I think you should go.”

“How can I go without you?”

“You’re the one going to Harvard, fool! I’m going to look up for some film-making course.”

”You said you won’t be Jason.”

“And you said that nobody can ever change us the way we are.”

There’s a point in everyone’s life more or less, where we all don’t want to face reality. We all think that taking late decisions would be better. We believe that there’s always a next time when reality is harsh.

“We can be long-distance goals, baby.” I said.

“No Pete. We need to touch each other. We need to make our memories count together.”

“That’s a feel-ationship. Not a relationship.” I joked.

“Nice way to let me know that you are not interested in me anymore.”

“Don’t you think you’re pulling it a bit too far?”

“Don’t you think you’re ending things like a jerk?”

“Why don’t you go back to Jason? Oh I forgot maybe he doesn’t want you. Because you’re nonsense!” I lost my temper as I left her in tears at her place.

Now

The alumni party was going well. I greeted Emilia. She would never admit it in a million years, but she was really glad to see me. Not even the devil itself could come and convince me to curse her. It was my turn to go up on stage and give a short speech. I took the microphone with my trembling old hands and started speaking.

“I thank the school committee to invite all of us in this joyous reunion. It was really great to see you all gathered in this occasion. I miss my teachers, I miss all of you, and I miss this campus. I don’t get detentions after school anymore. I don’t get scolded by my teammates for missing the basket anymore. Perhaps those memories are strong enough to keep me alive. I wish you all the very best for your life. Let’s hope that soon, we have another reunion. And I would like to apologize to anyone who I’ve hurt during school days. Thank you.”

Everyone clapped out loud. As my speech came to an end, Emilia was nowhere to be found. I came down from the stage, looking for her desperately.

“Please. I just need to speak to her. One last time. Please.” I told her friend. She pointed me to the restroom, where Emilia was crying with the water flowing from the basin. I turned off the tap and turned her shoulders so she could face me.

“It’s okay. I forgive you.”

“I’m sorry Pete. I’m sorry. It’s all because of me.” She said, weeping like a little girl.

“No it’s not. I wish you all the best for your life, baby.” I embraced her for a few seconds.

It wasn’t possible for me anymore to hold back my tears. Like a boy who had just been bullied, I ran away to the parking lot and cried my heart out loud. Being unable to control the waterfall from my cerise eyes, I sat inside my car, and hit my head with the steering wheel, strong enough to get hurt. I remembered again what happened 10 years ago.

I was inside the library to return some books. That’s where I spotted Emilia and Jason, together, embracing each other. As Emilia’s eyes fell on me, I told her, “It’s okay. I was leaving anyway.”

Little did she know that my applications from Harvard had been accepted. Little did she know that I had to tear that paper up because I needed to choose a different path. Little did she know that I was in financial crisis. I had to save up as much as possible for my chemo-therapy. I was there at the library where she usually reads at that time. I was there to tell her about my illness.

That’s it. She went to Harvard. I went to a different college a year later.

Forgiving is maturity. But not regretting to forgive is adulthood. In most cases, we aren’t proud of ourselves. We wish that there was a time machine with which we could travel back and improve ourselves. At the same time we thank destiny that we are in the right place for a reason, and that our past is what led us to here. The difference between both these situations is realization. Realization that everything happens for a reason, and that’s the scripted movie we have to act along. Emilia regretted cheating. I regretted shouting at her. Now that I have the power to not regret what we did, but be relieved of where we are, I feel powerful. I feel like I’m one of the most overjoyed individuals in society. Whenever April comes, I get reminded of that one April that changed my life. That one April during which I would walk Emilia home under the umbrella, hiding from the rain. That one April which turned my life upside down.

As I am driving off to my home, where I have a lovely wife and two twin babies of my very own, I am entering a sense of nostalgia. It’s going to rain again. Hopefully, this time, it will no more be a melancholy April. Hopefully, from now, it will be an Orange April, every single time. The Orange April representing my health, enthusiasm, joy.

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