Chapter 10:

Paper Hearts

The Lonely Lovers Club

Willie and Ginko worked in the Lonely Lover Club’s classroom afterschool. They cut paper hearts from pink and red paper. Through the window, Willie could see the season was starting to change. The bright green colors of summer would soon fade into wonderful fall palettes. And that’s just what Willie wanted. Nothing was better than cuddling up next to your loved one on a cold day.

“Nothing is more romantic than a fireplace,” said Willie with a hint of frustration in his voice.

“Nothing is more dangerous than a fire,” argued Ginko. “We’re gonna get expelled.”

“We need to spark a fire between Gus and Adam. Metaphorically,” said Willie. “But this will help us do that literally!”

“We definitely cannot do that,” said Ginko.

“Fine,” said Willie. Sometimes Willie could be reasonable. As much as he wanted to help Gus and Adam, building a fireplace inside the school did come with some challenges. “What the heck else are we supposed to do?”

“I still say we just go with a pun. That’s all we need. Especially with all of the other stuff we have,” said Ginko.

“No puns,” said Willie. “We’re not going through this again.”

“Whatever,” said Ginko. “But we don’t need much more. It will take too long to get everything together anyways.”

Willie said, “well the whole proposal was the fireplace. If that’s out then the rest is easy. Too easy. I don’t think it will be enough.

“Let’s see,” said Ginko. “Gus has his suit. We’ll get him a bunch of roses. We have these paper hearts we’ll hang around the room. That will be romantic. I don’t think we’ll need much more. Gus will just have to stand there and ask him to the dance.”

This plan was perfect in Willie’s head. Gus would await Adam in their classroom. He would be wearing a perfectly tailored suit with a black tie. Maybe even a tuxedo. He would be standing next to a fireplace. Red and gold flames would flicker, perfectly lighting the room in a romantic mood. Gus would be holding onto a bouquet of roses. It was perfect.

Gus wanted to make sure that this proposal was romantic. He wanted no mistaking the invitation as some kind of friendly offer. All of Willie’s ideas did just that. This proposal would be perfectly enchanting.

But with Ginko’s negative attitude, the plan was slowly falling apart. Willie thought Ginko was beginning to sound like Sandra. Maybe she was rubbing off on him. Or maybe that’s why they got along so well. Either way they needed to do something more than just flowers. This was the Lonely Lovers Club. There had to be something else they could do.

“Aha,” said Willie. “How about this? We get a fake fire.”

“A fake fire?”

“Yeah. I saw them at the party store one time. It's some kind of Halloween decoration. It looks like a fire, but it's just this fan with some orange lights on it. No danger.”

“That’s better. But how often do you go to the party store?”

Willie blew off the question, “Not much. It’s settled then. We’ll use a fake fire.”

“How much will that cost you?” asked Ginko.

“Love is priceless, Ginko.”

“Yeah sure it is. But just so you know its not gonna look like a fireplace. More like a bonfire.”

Willie thought about the comment. “You’re right. We’ll have to design a fireplace.”

“Oh no.”

“Oh yes,” said Willie. He looked down at the scissors and paper hearts in his hands. “We’ve already got all these art supplies. We can just use some cardboard and paper to design something that resembles a fireplace.”

“Oh thank god,” said Ginko. “I was worried you would make me haul bricks through the school to make one.”

“That will be our backup plan,” said Willie. “So we’re all good then, right?”

“I think it’s still going too far, but it checks the boxes I guess. We have roses. Heart decorations. And we were able to keep the fireplace.”

“Perfect,” said Willie.

Finally, everything in Willie’s plan was starting to come together. It seemed like that was starting to become a rare thing. But Willie wouldn’t let a few missteps slow him down. So far the Lonely Lovers Club has been successful this year. Jaime and Rose. Chelsea and Brad. It was all happy customers. Those were wins for the Lonely Lovers Club.

Willie had just gotten back to cutting out his paper hearts when familiar giggles echoed into the room. Sandra and Maria walked into the classroom.

“Hi,” said Maria. Her smile was bright and her hair seemed to sparkle. But, wait, Sandra’s hair seemed to sparkle too. This wasn’t Willie’s imagination.

“Is that glitter in your hair?” asked Willie.

“Woah,” said Sandra. She proudly strutted across the room. “That’s top secret information. Only those who are making the most amazing proposal ever get to know.”

It seemed pretty obvious now that they were in the room. Their hair was flaked with gold glitter. Willie could see it collecting on their clothes and stuck to their hands.

“Oh please,” said Ginko. “Ours is gonna be so much better than yours.”

“Yeah right,” said Sandra. “I bet you guys are just doing some stupid pun.”

“We are not,” said Ginko. Ginko was probably glad they didn’t go with the pun idea now that Sandra was using it against him.

“What are you girls up to anyways?” asked Ginko.

Maria said, “We’re just grabbing some supplies. Speaking of which…” Maria turned towards the supply cabinet in the corner and began rummaging through it.

The girls quickly grabbed their supplies and began making their way to the exit.

“Sorry we can’t stay boys,” said Sandra. “But we’ll be busy getting ready to kick your butts.”

And with that they were gone. Charming.

Willie sighed and went back to cutting out paper hearts. “Well at least they’re showing some effort in the proposal,” he said.

“Yeah,” said Ginko. “Have you thought about your proposal for Maria?”

“Of course,” said Willie. “I’m going to take her out to dinner. Go for a romantic moonlit walk. Get down on one knee and pop the question.”

“Wait,” said Ginko, who froze as he was cutting the paper in his hands. “I meant a proposal for the dance.”

“Yes, naturally,” said WIllie. “This way is much more romantic and authentic than any proposal I could do at school.”

“So you’re not getting married?”

“No, we’re not getting married. What about you? Do you know how you’re asking Sandra?”

Ginko exhaled. “Not really. No.”

“Do you need some help?” asked Willie, excitedly.

“No, no. It’s fine. I’d like to figure it out on my own.” Ginko was no longer focused on Gus’ proposal. He had stopped cutting and sat in thought. “It’s tougher than I thought.”

“Yeah?” asked Willie.

“It's just, she’s my girlfriend. So I want to make it special. Like, personal to her, you know? But every time I try to think of something I just can’t come up with anything.”

“Well you’ve got the president of the Lonely Lovers Club sitting right next to you. So if you change your mind, I’ll be ready.”

Ginko let out a small laugh. “Thanks Willie. How are things with Maria?”

“Good, said Willie, continuing to cut the paper. “I mean, we don’t get to see eachother much outside of school. She’s usually got a lot going on.”

Willie kept on cutting, but slowed down as he got lost in his head. “Do you and Sandra get to see each other outside of school a lot?”

“Yeah, we do,” said Ginko. “I’m usually at her place on the weekends. Unless there’s a field hockey game. I guess I see her less now that we’re in the middle of the field hockey season. There’s a game every weekend. But we’re still good.”

“Hey, there you go,” said Willie with a big smile on his face. “For your proposal you could just do a field hockey pun.”

“Oh shut up,” said Ginko as he threw his paper scraps at Willie. The hollow outline of a heart blew to the ground before it even got close to Willie.

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