Three Lifetimes [completed]

by

kerbasi

Chapter 40: Under the Rhododendron tree

Which arc do you prefer?
Arc 1
Arc 2
I love both
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We were now in our last year of high school, and somehow I was feeling quite melancholic. Kina and Gary had already planned on going to Europe for their college courses in business, yet I was still undecided. It wasn't that I was melancholic about the college choices, but more on the fact that I was feeling somber about leaving Avalon Academy. It was like my second home for more than a decade.


I made a lot of friends in this place, and grew up with them for so long that I practically knew what they were thinking. It had been such a long time since I felt this sort of connection with people my age, and it was nostalgic. I only had a few close friends in Heaven, and the friends that I had gathered back in deity school turned into mere memories.

We were in class writing our chosen career paths on papers. I racked my brain, trying to see what profession would fit me the most. Mmm...a model? I thought with humor. Whatever career I chose in the end, I wanted to make my parents proud of me.

Because I was feeling stressed out, I decided I needed some sugar in my system. I took out the chocolates from my bag, the very same ones that arrived almost daily in my bag since primary school. Back in primary school, they were mostly store bought. But when secondary school came, the chocolates became handmade, with each chocolate individually wrapped with foil.

I secretly took out the biggest heart shaped chocolate from my bag, and while surreptitiously unwrapping it under my desk so as not to be reprimanded by the teacher, I found a note beneath the wrapper.

Curious, I took out the little pink note and read it.

"Please meet me under the rhododendron tree after afternoon classes end. I have something to confess."

I folded the note and tucked it into my pocket. Was it a love confession? Although I had clearly stated during primary school that confessing to me was prohibited, as I could never return their feelings, this was a special case. I had always wanted to thank this person for supplying me chocolates for years, and this was the right time to do so.



"I saw you reading a note this morning in class," Gary started to say as we placed our trays down on our usual cafeteria table.

"A love note?" Sarielle asked as she placed the utensils and an extra plate of dessert on my tray.

"I don't know," I replied. "I'm still gonna meet that person after class."

"So you're really going to meet her?" Kina said a bit anxiously.

"Yeah. After all, that person has given me diabetes for many years!" I laughed.

"When I'll become a doctor, I can amputate your gangrened leg for you," Sarielle said as she lifted a steak knife in one hand.

"Not with that kind of knife, you won't." I shivered visibly in horror and they all laughed.



When class ended, everyone filed out of the classroom in a hurry to return home. Kina and Gary bid their goodbyes. There were no club practices today, so I was free at the end of class.

"Will you wait for me?" I asked Sarielle.

"I have always been waiting for you." Her reply hinted at a deeper meaning, but I didn't quite understand it. It was true that she had always been waiting for me to finish with my clubs, and she did so without complaint. I was very grateful for her patience.

"I'll meet you by the school gates then. I probably won't take long." I grabbed my bag and hauled it over my shoulder.

"It's fine. Take your time," Sarielle replied with a smile.

I slowly made my way to the school garden where the beautiful rhododendron tree was planted smack dab in the middle. Before I could reach it, however, I had to go through a small maze of hedges. It was a bit annoying.

When I turned to the last area of the maze which opened into a clearing, I saw a figure standing solitarily underneath the dark pink blossoms.

"What are you doing here?" I asked the familiar presence. "Have you seen another person here?"

"It's me." Kina looked at me seriously.

"What?" It couldn't possibly...be?

"I was the one giving you chocolate since primary school. I was also..." She looked down at her shoes as she clutched the sides of her skirt. "I also wrote the letter this morning."

"So it was you! Why haven't you said anything all this time?" I chuckled as I affectionately stroked her head. Why did she have to hide the fact she had been giving me chocolate all these years? I considered it a blessing in disguise!

She still didn't look at me, but her whole face started turning red.

"There was never a right time. When Sari arrived, I lost even more confidence in myself. I couldn't do it. But it's our last year of high school, and I couldn't...I couldn't not say anything."

I touched her chin with my fingers and lifted it up so we were face to face. She still didn't look at me, but I saw a thin film of water quickly appear over her eyes.

"Why are you crying?" I asked in surprise.

The tears started gushing down her cheeks. "Idiot! I wouldn't have cried if you didn't point it out!"

"Sorry, sorry!" I patted my trouser pockets for a handkerchief. I was very troubled.

Kina awkwardly rubbed away the tears with the back of her hand. Sadly, I finally found a clean handkerchief when her cheeks were already dry. I hovered it over her eyes, but she slapped my hand away.

"Stop being so nice to me!" She shouted, her eyes starting to become moist again.

"Why should I stop being nice to you?" I asked, a bit discombobulated. Kina was really acting unlike herself.

"Because I don't want to fall more in love with you!" Tears were now rolling slowly down her cheeks again, but my hands couldn't move.
I stood there rooted to the ground as the words "fall in love" entered my brain on repeat.

Fall in love with you!

What.

Fall in love!

What.

Love!

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat.

"Kina..." I articulated slowly, afraid that anything I would say would hurt her even more.

"If there was anything I did to lead you on, I'm really sorry, but..." I said bitterly. This was going to leave a bad aftertaste in my mouth.

"Shut up! I know, I know!" She shook her head as she used her palms to cover her ears. "I don't want to hear it! I know!" She dropped her hands away as she looked at the ground again. "I know it, but...but I can't help it, you know?"

"I--" I started to say, but she cut me off.

"It's your fault!" She suddenly declared, as she stared at me, her eyes glistening with tears.

"Huh?" Why was it my fault now?!

"It's your fault for being a person so easy to love!" She pouted, wiping the corner of her eyes with a finger.

"I'm...sorry?" I didn't know what else to say. It felt awkward apologizing for being so...lovable...

"Hmph!" She crossed her arms over her chest, and turned around. She lifted her nose in the air. "You could at least comfort me in your arms, you know. That's what a prince does to damsels in distress!"

"You're obviously in distress, but are you a damsel?" I teased, wanting to lighten the atmosphere.

"Hmph! Do you see me hiding a phallus underneath my skirt?" She turned around to face me, her cheeks red.

"How should I know?" I lifted my shoulders in a shrug.

Kina laughed when she saw the perturbed expression on my face.

"Just hold me, alright! That's my last request!" She looked at me with determination in her eyes. "I won't mention my feelings again after this."

I took her small figure in my arms, and she rested her face against the crook of my neck. I stroked her back once I heard her sobs. My collar was getting wet from her tears, but I didn't care. I was truly sorry for hurting her, but my feelings would never change. I loved Jin and no one else. Kina was a good friend that I did not want to lose no matter what. I hoped everything would turn out well after this.

After a few minutes passed, her sobs started to slow down until she was merely sniffing against my shoulder.

"I've got snot all over your shirt," she commented, her voice muffled against the fabric.

"Uh-oh. Now you've gotta pay for it. I take chocolates in installment," I said seriously.

"I don't feel like making those anymore. How about a knuckle sandwich?" She raised a fist against my chin in example.

I shook my head. "That bony appearance doesn't look very appetizing. I should've fed you more burgers."

"I'm buying a tub of ice cream tonight." She hugged me tighter, her wet cheek pressed against my shoulder. "Watch me gain weight overnight."

"Then may I suggest my favorite brand of ice cream? I absolutely adore Antonio Federici." Because her face turned sour, I decided to stop joking. I patted her head and smiled. "We're still friends right?"

She nodded her head, holding me a few seconds longer.

As we were about to part, I thought I heard a small whisper coming from her direction, "But I'm not giving up on you..."

I honestly hoped I heard wrong.
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About the author

kerbasi

Bio: First and foremost, I am a neko who loves to write. I'm a cat lady~ and also a medical student in the throes of insanity lol. I'll probably only write one story on here before I completely vanish into thin air, so all I can say is:

Thank you very much for reading! *bows*

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