There was one primary reason why I wanted to date Echo—to show Chad that I was dating not just any other boy, but one of his classmates.
Since they spent time with each other for hours in the same classroom every day, it wouldn't take long for the news to reach his ears, especially with our common friends buzzing around like bees in a flower field. And just to make it really obvious, I phoned Echo during their lunch break, and I smiled when I heard one of our common friends yell teasingly in the background, "Hey, Chad! Seems like Erika's dating Echo, aren't you jealous?"
As much as I wanted to deny it, I was hoping he'd get a little jealous, but I didn't hear any response nor reaction from him. He probably just arched an eyebrow or something.
Echo's voice interrupted my reverie. It was our first day as an official couple, and to celebrate, we went out to eat in a local diner that served cheap but delicious food. He was all smiles at me and even offered to pay for everything, but I declined and told him to split the bill evenly. I saved up what little allowance I had this week just so I could afford my own meal. I didn't want to seem like a user...
'But you are,' my mind accused.
I swallowed the guilt with a smile of my own. "Yes?"
"Are you okay?" he asked, his eyebrows drawn together. "You seem troubled."
I could see the concern in his eyes and it made me feel worse. "I'm okay," I said as I stared at him, desperately wanting to like him back as soon as possible. "I'm just new to this dating thing, so it kinda feels awkward."
He scratched the back of his head and chuckled. "Yeah, me too. I mean, I don't know what we should talk about or where we should go..."
"Well, why don't we get to know each other? There are still plenty of things we haven't talked about, like family and hobbies and stuff."
"Okay," he agreed. "What do you want to know?"
I racked my brains. I had to be interested in him. He was my boyfriend, for goodness' sake. Surely, there was something I was curious about, right?
"Err," I started, my eyes shifting to the table cloth's pattern, "do you have any siblings?"
He smiled. "Yeah, a little sister, the one who doesn't like spicy food, remember? She's two years younger than me."
"Oh, yeah," I said, embarrassed at having forgotten that detail. "I remember."
"What about you? Any siblings?"
"I have an older brother," I said, frowning. "We're seven years apart."
"Why do you look annoyed?"
"We don't get along well," I admitted. "He always picks on me."
"Maybe it's his way of showing affection," he said. "Brotherly love is like that, you know."
I laughed a little. "Does that mean you also pick on your sister?"
"Sometimes," he said, winking. "It's funny when she gets angry."
"Brothers are heartless."
"Ouch," he said, feigning injury. "That's not true at all. We're very affectionate."
"Uh-huh," I said, nodding sarcastically. "I can totally see it."
He laughed, standing up as he did. "Come on, I'll walk you home."
It was getting dark and we were still in our uniforms. People—mostly adults—looked at us we walked, and I felt self-conscious. I felt like I was being judged for dating at sixteen, although I knew I was just being paranoid. It was hard growing up in a conservative country; there were eyes and mouths everywhere.
We walked slowly, making sure there was enough distance between us. I didn't want anyone to be suspicious of our relationship. After all, I didn't tell my parents about Echo. They didn't know I have a boyfriend.
As we neared the corner of my street, I turned to Echo and said, "We should part ways here. My parents don't know about us."
He nodded. "Alright."
"Wait," he said abruptly, as though the thought had just occurred to him. "Actually, a few of our classmates have joined the drama club and they have a play next weekend. You wanna go?"
"You mean go see the play?"
I bit my lip. "Who else is going?"
"Majority of my classmates will go."
Suddenly, I was excited. If majority of the class would go, that meant there was a big chance Chad and Sunny would be there, and it was an opportunity for me to show off. I wanted Chad to see me and Echo with his own eyes.
"Okay, I'll come with you," I said, smiling.
He smiled back. "Great! I'll text you our meeting place soon."
"Thanks for walking me home."
"Anytime," he replied, and then he turned around to walk back the way we came.
It was our first day as a couple, it was our first date, and yet as I went to sleep that night, all I could think about was seeing Chad again in a week's time and making him realize that he made a mistake when he decided he didn't want me anymore.
Because now, someone else had taken his place.
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