Chapter 38:

Something Real

Would You Paint My Dunk

Her last question rendered me speechless. I didn't know how to respond to her. After a moment of silence, she asked me again.

“Keith, I’m asking you. Can we stop pretending? I… want us to become real.”

I was shocked. I somehow feel that she is giving me signals all these times, but I never knew that she would be daring enough to take the first step.

My pride was shattered to pieces.

I kept telling myself that I would confess to her, and I kept making excuses that I’m going to find the best time to do it. As a result, she confessed first before me.

I’m a disgrace as a man.

But what’s done is done. All I could do to her is to apologize, and act as a man from now on.

“Jess, I’m sorry. I…”

While I was saying ‘sorry’, she suddenly looked dejected. And before I could finish my sentences, she interjected.

“I see, I had a feeling that you are a very kind person, Keith. In my time of need, you always helped me out. I’m the foolish one to assume and jumped on the gun. I’m sorry…”

Shit! She just jumped into conclusion. Dammit! I should have thought over my word of choices. I have to clear this one fast before our relationship goes beyond repair.

“No, Jess, that’s not what I meant…”

“Keith, I know that you don’t want to hurt me with a rejection, and I appreciate your kindness, but… I would appreciate it if you would go to the point. If this drags on, I don’t know if I could hold on…”

I’m slowly losing my patience. I slightly raised my tone out of frustration.

“Jess. Listen to me, I…”

“Even if it was brief, I’m glad I…”

I couldn’t hold my pent-up emotion any longer. My string of sanity just had snapped.


Just like a dam broke up and let the water gushing rapidly out of its hole, I shouted it out loud in my mouth. Sure enough, everyone at the park is now looking at me, and she is not an exception. Right now, she was taken aback and went silent at my outburst.

“Dammit! Why can’t you listen to someone to the end for once? How could I explain anything if you kept interrupting me and went on by yourself?”

“That’s… Uhm… I’m sorry…”

She turned her head downward and sideways, averting her gaze. She was no longer willing to look me in the eyes.

I exuded a big sigh. The problem changed from one to another. She used to not listen to me, but now she is dispirited. I wanted her to listen to me, but I didn’t anticipate this extreme mood swing of hers.

I closed my eyes, trying to find my inner peace before continuing my conversation with her. Achieving a tranquil mind, I slowly opened my eyes. Looking at her once more, I decided to grab her attention first.

“Jess, if someone is talking to you, look them in the eyes. Come on, look at me.”

She finally looked at me. While she still looks dejected, at least she is paying attention to me. Now, it’s the time to clear the misunderstanding.

“So first, I want to apologize for raising my voice against you. I couldn’t hold my anger, and I apologize for that.”

“That’s ok, I’m the one at fault by keeping cutting your sentences. I had been rude. I’m sorry as well.”

“Right. Now that has been solved, let me tell you what I didn’t manage to say earlier.”

She looked at me intently, paying utmost attention to what I’m going to say.

“So, what I wanted to say is… I wasn’t sure that you had a feeling toward me. I had a guess, but I wanted to confirm it first. If I know that things will turn this way, I would immediately confess as soon as we sat on this bench.”

“Wait, so that means…”

“Yeah, our feelings are mutual.”

“Oh, thank God! I had prepared for a rejection. I’m…. I’m so happy.”

Tears started to flow from her eyes. But it wasn’t the tears of sadness. Her face was filled with a sense of relief instead.

To be honest, it wasn’t just her. I thought of the same thing. I wasn’t willing to risk our current relationship, and I repeatedly stopped myself in the fear of losing her.

We had the same problem.

In the end, she broke this stalemate and went first. Because of that, now we can be honest with each other.

But suddenly, something is troubling me. I had imagined in my mind that I would confess first, and then I would be proud of myself after she said ‘yes’, but now it has changed.

I don’t know why she would be that happy when our roles were reversed, especially with a man like me, a basketball guy without a romantic sense. I felt unworthy of being confessed to, and I should have the one who begs for her approval.

Pretty, smart, hardworking, caring, and even considerate of others. She is way better than average girls out there. While me? I’m not even in the team yet, and I’m not a smart guy either. I’m not better than any ordinary guy, and I don’t have any distinct qualities to be sought by her.

Maybe I should tell her about my shortcomings. I don’t want her to regret this. As much as I want to have her on my side, I want her to become happy. I would rather back off instead of robbing her of her happiness.

Looking at her smile, I decided to lay myself bare in front of her.

“Jess, I’m not a romantic person unlike others. I’m lacking in many faucets, and I don’t think I’m better than average people. But if you still want to have me, then I’ll be in your care.”

“Keith, what are you saying? Don’t sell yourself short. You pulled me out of predicaments. You are always there for me. You are my pillar of support. You are a reliable guy that I could entrust my back with… Meanwhile, I’m…”

Her expression turned grim as she paused for a moment. She wiped her eyes before she went on with her lengthy explanation.

“Keith, I’m a selfish girl… When we first met, my first impression of you is that you are an easygoing person. My mere thought of you was to use you to relieve my stress. I wanted to escape reality by talking to you.”

“I had to please everyone else, but when facing you, I could drop my mask off and be honest with myself. Slowly, you became a place I could dump my rants to. When I realized that it’s fun to talk with you, I decided to use you as a source of entertainment. I started to think of you as a living chatbot.”

“However, when I had troubles, you helped me. I thought that I could use you as a shield, but eventually I started to take a liking to you and felt conflicted with how things were going. I started to think of you as a man, but at the same time, I realized that I’m a scumbag and didn’t deserve you.”

Tears continuously cascading from her cheek. She alternately wiped both of her welled-up eyes with her wrist, but it didn’t stop her overflowing tears. Her expression is telling me that she also left everything bare at the table. Looking at me with her sapphire eyes, she continued.

“I thought that I could sweep it under the rug by showing you good sides and bury everything down, but in the process, I felt guilty.”

“With what I had done to you, I thought that the only way to make amends is to date you for real. And then, I tried to set a good mood and confess right away, but I didn’t have the courage to do so. I was afraid that you were hanging with me out of kindness, and didn’t think of me as a girl. That’s why I had delayed it until now.”

“I’m sorry, Keith. This is the real me. I guess you would be surprised and reconsider everything. I’m saying this because you made me feel more guilty. Maybe I’m stupid to ruin my chance after you just agreed, but I don’t want you to feel bad for yourself.”

“Keith, I love you…”

Hearing her explanation made me realize that I was kept in the dark all this time. She had to explain it to me, or otherwise I wouldn’t know anything.

I thought I knew her that well, but it appears that I was mistaken. There were signs that hinted at these facts, but I didn’t realize anything.

But even though I was being used, I didn’t resent her for it. Even if the part where she used me is true, she had changed for the better.

Furthermore, it’s not easy to be honest to others, especially, it’s your crush who you adore so much. Instead of hiding your weaknesses, you showed all your cards. I could feel her genuinely want me to become happy, and that’s why she is self-destructing in her conflicting emotions.

This is crazy.

Well, I guess I should have expected this when I fell in love with a peculiar girl. But still, I didn’t regret my choice to keep loving her. Right now, she is an earnest girl working hard toward her goals, and today it happened to be me.

Deciding to accept just as she is, I affirmed my feelings once more.

I love her.

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