To Matias Savolainen Born in Espoo
Weekend. AHHH... The whole day I have been laying on my bed and thinking about ..ehh... well let’s leave it for later. So anyways it’s Sunday today and I’m supposed to go play basketball with my friends but honestly I don’t feel like it at all. It’s way too hot here in California to play basketball when the sun is shining. I just decide to go get a coke from the fridge from downstairs. I might be a bit overweight but who really cares because I love myself the way I am So I’m 14 years old boy and my name is Bob. I’m in 8th grade now and I go to this school called “Dragon Middle School”. Yeah, you heard it right! Dragon Middle School. I don’t know exactly why it’s named like that but all the students think it’s because they wanted the school name to sound like it’s a tough school and not for people whose grades are not good. I got to this school with Zack’s help. His dad is the principal in Dragon Middle School and because Zack is my best friend he convinced his dad to take me in. So thanks for Zack, my best friend. Zack has been my bestfriend since first grade and we have always been like brothers. In other words he “lives” at my house. Always when he comes he just walks in without even bothering to ring the doorbell or anything and yells “I’m home!” and goes and grabs a sandwich from our fridge. But that’s just how the things work at our house even though it’s pretty annoying when you come back from basketball practice tired and hungry and the first thing you see is that the fridge is empty and someone is watching TV and eating the food you were planning to eat after the practice. For example last Monday... Today was no different at all from the other days. After the practice I saw Zack’s brown kind of dirty hair sticking out from behind the TV. “Hey dude, Bob, can you pass me a can of coke from the kitchen table?” I didn’t answer, I just walked into the kitchen and grabbed one coke and threw it right into his hands. “Thanks man!” I heard him saying and opening the can. I dropped my bag on the floor and walked to my room by walking though the living room first where Zack was watching TV. But when I got to the living room my eyes literally popped out from my head. “ZACK! What is this? A landfill or something!?” “Jeez, dude relax. It’s just couple of pizza slices and coke cans on the floor nothing bigger”, Zack told me like it was obvious and turned the TV on. “RELAX?! My mom is going to be here any time and she is going to kill me if the living room looks like this when she comes!” “Well.. in that case we can just lock the door and not let her come in” “Zack! Get up! We have to clean this before she gets home.” “N’aaw! Fine, let’s do this then.” Zack said lazily. This is what the life is in our house. And I actually ended up cleaning the whole living room and letting Zack tell his own excuses to go to the bath room. I I picked up some trash from the floor and went to my room. I brushed my teeth well and changed to pyjama that was just a normal blue one that had white stripes all over it. It might have looked like an outfit that the thieves would wear in the prison if it was a black one of course. After that I crawled into my bed.
The next day, the morning classes seemed to take for ever. I was half asleep in the math class and finally when the bell rang to tell that the lunch was starting. “Man, you are blushing!” Zack, said to me while I was looking around the cafeteria and making weird moves with my eyes. “No, I’m not!” I replied turning my head back to his direction. What if I actually was? I excused myself and ran to the restrooms that were right on the left corner of cafeteria. I looked at myself from the mirror. I was like I would have had two red tomatoes burning on my cheeks. Zack was right when he had told me that I liked this girl from my math class but I actually never realized it by myself. Until now. I made a ‘cup’ out of my hands and took some cold water and let it go though my hands couple of times before I looked at the mirror and saw for reflection that there were no urinals behind me. Staring at the reflection from the mirror I rasped “Damn it!” My mouth opened but no words were coming out. AHH ! BOB, NOT AGAIN! HOW THE HECK DID I END UP IN THE GIRLS’ BATHROOM! Just when I was about to turn back and go to the boys’ bathroom, I heard two girls coming towards me. Quickly, without thinking what they would think about seeing me in the girls’ bathroom, I hid in one of the toilets and locked the door. I heard the girls laughing when they came in. “Don’t you think it’s sick that the fat guy tried to flirt with Alice? What’s his name again? I mean, does he like think he is something?” one of the girls said with a really annoying voice. “Ha-ha! I know he is a total bast***! He should lose some pounds!” another girl said and then both of them started laughing. They exited the bathroom as fast as they had came. When they were gone, I exited the bathroom kind of feeling sad. I have heard some mean things that people have said about me but this... this was the worst. I haven’t never heard people saying so mean things about someone. I felt like all the things that Zack had told me throughout these years had been just a bunch of lies. “Don’t listen to those girls, they are just trying to make you feel bad. You are not fat at all!” This is what Zack has been telling me for a long time. For the first time, I was hurt. When I got back to the cafeteria, it was empty. Everyone had gone to the class already. I sighed and started walking towards the science class... After the school day I wasn’t feeling good. I felt like throwing up. Just laying on the couch didn’t make me feel any better. In my head, there was only one thought:”Should I start seriously lose some pounds?” NO, i told myself. There was no need. Why did I even listen to those girls? I’m good the way I’m. Now that I got my self esteem back, I started to consider the words that Zack had said to me earlier at school. “Bob, why don’t you just ask Alice to the dance? You won’t lose anything. The worst thing that might happen is that she says no but that it’s not the end of the world.” He was right I won’t lose anything if I asked her.. The next day. Zack kicked my foot and whispered, “Go! She is not going to be standing there for the whole day”. Zack was right. It was now or never. I had to go ask her to the school dance but when I took the first step towards her my knees started shaking and I fell straight to Zack’s hands that were luckily catching me from falling. Like he knew I would fall. “Ahh...don’t be a loser. Just go.” ‘Just go’. I repeated to myself. This time my knees were okay but hands were still shaking a bit. When I got closer I felt like I should turn back and tell Zack to ask her to the dance for me. No, that would be so pathetic and embarrassing. Now, there was only about ten meters of distance between us. I was nervous. “Hey Alice!” someone behind me yelled. I was too frozen to turn over and look who that was. “Can I ask you something?” Ahh.. That was totally Tom’s voice. Tom was the most popular guy in the whole 8th grade and all the girls would literally salivate and do anything to be his girlfriend. However, I hadn’t never seen them talking to each other before. Or maybe I just didn’t
want to see her talking to anyone else. “Yes, sure. What’s the question?” Alice answered with a shrilling voice. It took me a moment to understand what was happening. “NOO!” I screamed in a panic. But it was too late. “I was wondering if you would like to go to the dance with me?” Tom asked. I started running towards them and just when I was about to stop and prevent what Tom was doing, I tripped straight to Alice’s feet like an idiot. “Tom, I would love to! And umm.. you can you please stop salivating on my shoes. It is kind of gross you know?” Tom left the place laughing without saying a word. “Bob! Why did you do that? Why did you embarrass me in front of Tom?” I embarrassed her? “I was just.. um.. going to ask you about the math project”. “Oh, well in that case, do you need help with it?” “Umm... yeah... that would be really nice of you”, I said without knowing what words I was letting to go out from my mouth. “Great, see you after school then”, Alice said and went away. The rest of the day I was thinking about what would happen after school. Maybe she would notice how nice I’m and would go to the dance with me instead of Tom. After my science class I walked slowly towards the cafeteria and saw Zack and Jennifer sitting at the table, next to a stack of trays. Zack waved his hand to my direction and said “Jennifer is sitting with us today”. Jennifer was Alice’s best friend and to be honest, I haven’t ever seen them apart. They always sat together at lunch. “Yeah, Alice decided to sit with Tom and the other popular dorks today so if you allow me, I would sit with you guys”, Jennifer said with a voice that sounded like it bothered her. “Ehh.. yeah of course .. of course”, I muttered. I couldn’t look anywhere except at Alice’s face. My eyes were clued on her. I saw Tom putting his hand around her and whispering something in her ear. Suddenly jealousy took over me. “Sit down Bob”, I heard Zack saying to me and I sat. “ After the school day, I was waiting for Alice to come in front of my locker, where we had planned to meet. Looking at the watch on my wrist ticking, I waited. And waited but the hallway stayed quiet and empty for the whole next hour… When finally the Friday arrived when the dance was to supposed to be, I slouched to school carrying my backpack from only one shoulder strap so that the bag was almost touching the ground. Just when I was about to step inside from the main doors I heard Alice yelling. “Bob! Wait!” “Alice, it’s okay that you totally forgot to help me with the math project. Have fun at the dance with Tom. You don’t need to apologize me anything.” I told her and kept walking towards my bike. It wasn’t the end of the day but I thought that after this all, the best thing to do is to go home. Why didn’t I ask her earlier? Why was I so shy? Why? I felt something wet on my cheek draining closer to my mouth. It was salty. Tears. I wanted to turn around and let Alice explain so badly but now there was no way anymore because I was crying. Aren’t girls the ones that always cry if they have lost someone? “Please!” Alice’s voice somehow made me shiver. It was so... soft… just hearing it made feel like it was the only voice in the world, the only voice that I cared about. Did Alice really mean that much to me? I turned my head around. Then my upper body. And last, my legs. There we were staring at each other with about five meters away from each other but somehow the distance disappeared or that’s what I thought. I felt like I was right next to her even I wasn’t. Alice’s
beautiful brown eyes always drove me crazy when I looked in them but this time they looked different. Her eyes were not glowing in the way they used to when she smiled. But to be honest she didn’t smile today either. Maybe it was because of her expression on her face. It was blank from the outside but when you looked inside her (which I only could do) I saw the pain that was buried inside her and when I saw it, I felt it in my body too. And suddenly I could see the pain from outside. She started crying too. “I thought we were supposed to go to the dance all together, you, Zack, Jennifer and I. I mean that’s what we always USED to do but like I already said, it’s fine. Go with Tom then”. I muttered, without knowing what else I could have said. Alice wiped off her tears and said “Tom is a nice guy but not my type”. What ? Had she said yes to a guy that she actually didn’t like? “I guess I just accepted the chance to go to the dance with Tom because I wanted to feel how it is to be popular and be the girl that everyone would admire. But I don’t belong there, I don’t want to be a popular girl that everyone would be proud of. I want to be who I am and forget what other people think about me. I don’t care if I’m popular or not, I just want to be friends with you guys and live the same life that we used to have earlier when I became..well.. “this”, she pointed herself with her finger. “I don’t except you to forgive me but I just want you to know what I feel and that I’m really sorry”, she continued. I just stood there without letting a word come out from my mouth because I was scared I was going to say something like ‘Oh, Alice… I knew you never liked Tom, of course I’ll forgive you’. Instead I gave her my kindest smile and took her hand in mine.
Maiju Savolainen lives in Warsaw, Poland and is the author of the short story “Mistakes by Love”. This story she wanted to write for her little brother that is 11 years old now that he won’t do the same kind of mistakes than the main character in this book Bob did. But she is sure that Matias will do the right decisions while he grows. Her home country isn’t Poland though. She is 14 years old and moved to Poland from Finland in the year 2010 and is enjoying her time there. So far so she has written only one story but hopefully there will be more of them when the time goes on.