"I just had to wait," said this girl, "for somebody to ask me out. There were years when nobody wanted to go out with me, but it happened eventually."
I got up from the paint-flecked blue stool that doubled as my computer chair and paced around the big empty space in the middle of my room (which I kept empty in order to be able to pace around in it, and occasionally to lie spread-eagled on the floor and pretend I was having sex). I'd never really exchanged more than a few words with this girl - although what I had had been pleasant, of course; we'd shared an umbrella once. But here she was, telling me Things Over The Internet.
"I may as well tell you, then, that I fancied you for a very long time, in fact, over the last few years," I typed, "but I didn't ever do anything." I waited a few seconds, and then continued my pacing, a little more agitated now, both emboldened and abashed at my ability to admit such a thing over the internet. I'd have to see her again at school, of course, but I doubt I'd ever be able to mention it again. I thought she ought to know.
I still wonder whether I was stretching the point. For the past few years I'd nursed a secret affection for a few girls - from a little crush to a Manics fan to the Zebra Project - and, although it was suspected by a few people (notably the Manics fan, who asked me outright, and at one point told me) - I would always deny, rather strenuously, that I didn't fancy this girl. I would admit, though, that she was incredbly pretty, and that nobody could deny, although again nobody could really point out why.
One thing that stood out about her was her incredibly unique haircut. She had incredibly thick brown hair, styled into a bob with an incredibly straight edge, the effect of which being that one could run one's finger in a circle around her head (at around the same height as her mouth) and her entire haircut would be the same distance from your finger all the way around. Of course, it wasn't just that which was attractive - she had a cute nose, pretty blue eyes and a lovely smile; she was also clever, quiet and friendly and secretly admired by quite a few more boys than just me (and the one who asked her out, who by this point was her boyfriend).
"What's she got that I haven't?" was the only negative thing I ever heard about her, which was from Moaner Lisa, most likely in some sort of mix of jealousy, curiosity and outrage.
I turned my attention back to the screen.
"Hey! It wasn't you who sent me that extra Rolo, was it?" she asked. (My school had the idea of sending Rolos to people on Valentine's for a small fee... to fund the school's buying of Rolos for this purpse, I suppose.) She'd received three - three! - Rolos from various people at the same time (three more than most people got!) the previous year. I'd noticed this, but hadn't thought to wonder about who they were from.
"No, it wasn't me," I said, truthfully. "It was meant to be a secret crush. Wasn't it your boyfriend?"
"No, it wasn't him," she said. "He told me. Do you know who it was?"
Now that I think about it, as a matter of fact, I probably did. It may have been Lightsinthesky, or the portly boy that nobody liked, or my little Indian friend who fancied everyone. Or Lightsinthesky again. He may have sent all three, considering how keen on her he was.
"No, I've no idea!" I said, very pleased that she hadn't blocked me and moved away from town in utter revulsion at being fancied by ILB. "How very odd."
"Hey, do you know who I think is pretty?" she said, throwing me off guard. "My friend Lauren. Isn't she pretty?"
"Oh... yes," I said, again being truthful. "She's a very good-looking girl. I don't know her as well as I used to, but yes, you're right. Then again, she's your best friend, right? So you would say that..."
There was a pause.
"How is your new job going? I heard you work at Waitrose now?"
"No, I only work on street corners but that's mostly at the weekends!"