I'm standing in the parking lot after hockey practice. This is my first cigarette of the day, and I can't even enjoy it.
Not after she told me to quit.
Suddenly, I remember her voice saying, "You have a big heart, Nathan. You may look intimidating, but your gentle heart is part of why I love you so much."
My chest constricts when those words sink into my head, and the image of her older self smiling at me hits my brain. She was beautiful as my wife. Mousy, brown hair dangling down the sides of her round cheeks. Glossy lips caught in the most captivating smile I've ever seen.
Suddenly, I'm not even interested in other women anymore.
That version of Alice that I saw in my dream has ruined me. She was the most stunning woman I've ever seen: Large breasts, glowing cheeks, and kind eyes. She was also carrying my child!
I sigh and massage my eyelids, yet no matter what, I can't get Alice out of my head.
Damn it all!
How will I ever be able to forget how that other Alice looked at me? Those eyes were so affectionate and filled with love. No one has ever looked at me like that! Not even my own dad or even a friend.
Fuck, my heart hurts. I was married to Alice—we were about to have our fifth daughter, and I... I didn't hate it, okay? That dream felt so real, and I was happy!
But that dream will never become a reality. How would I even begin to turn things around? Alice Grey hates me, and I doubt we have anything in common. We probably couldn't even hold a conversation without it getting weird!
Then again... Should I try talking to her? I doubt Alice would be comfortable if her past bully approached her. I've been so mean to her in the past.
Alice Grey comes from a happy family with plenty of siblings. She is kind and always smiling and trying her hardest. Growing up, I was so jealous of this sweet little girl that I bullied her.
Of course, it doesn't excuse what I did, but Alice's parents loved her achievements and drove her to school every morning. I envied that because the only thing my dad ever did was beat me up.
My mother died giving birth; my dad has always taken that out on me. He is a miserable old man, and it wasn't until I finally hit puberty that I could defend myself.
Now I'm too big to be beaten by him, but I'm still not exactly the friendliest guy myself.
Sighing, I throw my cigarette on the ground and stomp out the flame without even smoking it. I should quit this addiction.
"Hey, is that Nathan?"
"Should we talk to him?"
"I don't know... He looks angry."
"That dude always looks angry, but if you don't approach him now, you might never get the same chance again. I thought you liked him? Go and ask him out!"
I ignore the girls looking like they might want to approach me.
Some people fear me, but there are also a lot of them who are intrigued. Being a tall athlete makes girls ask me out to the left and right. And if you don't think height matters, then think again. Women thirst after guys who are above six feet tall.
I walk up the stairs and enter the building. I'm hungry and head down to the dining halls. I buy a large amount of food, and then I freeze in my tracks once I catch Alice Grey sitting alone by a window.
Hm. It would be stupid to head over there. I already harassed Alice yesterday, and I bet that dream meant nothing. It was just a foolish one-time thing.
Yet I can't fucking help myself. I take my tray and head over to her table. Her chin lifts, and I inwardly wince when I catch the fear in her dark brown eyes.
So different from the affection in my dream. It kind of hurts realizing she is afraid of me. It feels like a thousand knives are sticking into my chest.
Yet, because I'm an idiot, I croak out a word. "Hey."
Alice shifts in her seat, and my heart falters.
She seems uncomfortable, and she probably wonders what the hell I'm doing sitting with her. The truth? I've gone entirely mad. A dream drove me here. I probably need to be admitted to a psych ward and have my head evaluated.
I look at Alice again, and she breathes a, "Hi..."
Shock seeps through me from that simple word.
I stare at her.
She isn't quite meeting my eyes, but her speaking is a start. I hope? It's not like I need her to say many things to figure out we got zero chemistry. Because there isn't any spark at all, there simply can't be!
The only reason I'm sweating in my seat and that my heart is racing is because of that stupid, weird dream that I had—nothing else.
We are too different.
In my mother's diary, she wrote that people's hands are a good hint of whether or not you're their soulmate. They should fit like puzzle pieces. But my hands are large and calloused, and Alice's hands are tiny. We aren't compatible at all.
"No offense, but..." Alice licks her lips, and finally, she meets my eyes. Hers are puffy as if she spent the night crying. "Why are you sitting with me?"
"Uh?" Alice mimics me.
I smile in amusement. "Umm..."
I'm unsure what to say. Alice glares at me with her slightly swollen eyelids, and I don't know why I find that cute. Does she think she looks intimidating or something?
"I'm waiting..." Alice impatiently taps her pink nails against the table.
"Right," I try not to keep smiling like a fool. "I'm here because..."
Alice blinks at me when I trail off, and I grimace.
What do I tell her? I had a dream—you were the mother of my children, and therefore, you should forget everything I've ever done to you—fuck, that sounds crazy! This is crazy! What the hell am I doing?
"Because what?" Alice snaps, shocking us both. She looks freaked out after raising her voice, and I get the feeling that's because she fears me. Jesus Christ, I have messed up this girl, haven't I?
I gulp down an ounce of guilt and try to smile. "I'm just... Do you still draw and shit?"
I want to facepalm myself after speaking. Am I stupid? I can't believe this shit! I've gone my entire life thinking I'm smart, but I'm actually retarded! I have zero game—I realize that—even Alice realizes that, or else she wouldn't be squinting at me!
"I still draw and shit," Alice says, looking me up and down with burning eyes. Her entire demeanor screams hatred. I must have hit a nerve asking her about her hobby. "Are you asking because you're planning on taking my drawings and making fun of me again? Maybe you would want to call me Picasso again?"
I blink. "No, that's not—"
"How did I for one second think you've changed?! You're probably here to disrespect me and get back to bullying me again!"
Would she let me speak? "No, Alice. I'm not here to—"
"Let me make it easy for you!" Alice rustles in her bag. It's on the chair beside her, and I notice her hands are shaking. "Since I don't want you to beat me up or anything, I will just hand the drawings to you!"
Beat her up?
I would never do that!
"Hey, now, I've never gotten physical with you—"
"Oh, yeah, but you might go down that route!" Alice snaps again and slides a sketchbook across the table. It stops right under my nose while Alice stands up. "Look, I'm not sure what you want, Nathan, but please, just leave me alone, okay?"
"You want me to leave you alone?" A girl has never said that to me before.
"Yes?" Alice gives me a pained expression. "You scare me, Nathan. And that shouldn't come as news to you. I'm sure you realize why I don't trust you and why I'm asking you to stay away from me."
So she really does fear me...
What do I say in a situation like this?
Since my brain isn't working, I continue to stare at her. It makes Alice laugh, but the sound is miserable. Her expression is torn, and I watch her hang her backpack on her back before giving me a shaky smile.
"Look, you made my middle school years into a living hell. And then I spent half of my high school years fearing you, so please, Nathan, just let me be alone in college. I'm begging you."
"Yes, I'm begging you to leave me the fuck alone because guess what, Nathan? I hate you. I hate you more than anyone else."
With those words, Alice hurries away from me, and I'm left sitting there alone, feeling like the biggest scumbag on earth.
I always liked that I'm tall, and my intimidating physique works well on the ice when I play hockey. But right now, I wish I looked a tad bit more friendly. I know I'm an asshole, but maybe if I weren't a fucking giant, Alice wouldn't fear me.
How do I make her like me?
Is that even possible?
No, wait. What am I thinking? It shouldn't matter what Alice thinks. This is just proof that my dream won't come true.
Even if I wish it would...
AliceIt's after school, and I have realized that I need to try my hardest to make some friends. I even have the perfect plan. Our hockey team, The Fighting Devils, has a fan club that has been leaving notes all around campus. They are searching for new members, and even though I know nothing about this violent sport, I think this could be my chance. Many girls are in the fan club, and I will join them.Brilliant plan, right?If only I wasn't so nervous...I suck in a deep breath to calm myself. It's cold inside the ice hockey arena, and the sounds of guys grunting and hitting the puck fill my ears. People sit on the bleachers, watching the practice as if put under a spell, and my eyes land on Winnie.A smile spread over my lips.Winnie is the girl whose number was left on the fliers. She is the chairman of the fan club and is supposedly friendly. We texted earlier, and she told me to come and meet her here. "Got to make it over there, I guess," I mumble as I pave my way past peopl
AliceI'm hurrying to the parking lot in the dark. Despite being old enough to do whatever I want, I value my relationship with my parents. Therefore, I plan on continuing to come home in time for mom's home-cooked dinners. My mom works as a chef. She owns a restaurant with my dad, and regardless of what anyone may think, we only speak English in our family. I hate when people expect me to understand Chinese, and my mother cooks Italian meals. She is excellent in the kitchen, which is probably why my four sisters never skip meals. We are all very respectful of our parents. I hurry my steps, only to glance to the right when I hear footsteps approaching. Nathan is walking beside me, and with his freakishly long legs, it doesn't take long for him to catch up. My skin crawls, and my heart leaps into my throat. I fear Nathan, but I'm too irritated to let it show. "Are you stalking me now?" I snap at him. Nathan pauses briefly, and I do the same. We stand facing each other like two a
NathanI'm so fucking stupid! Why did I raise my voice at Alice, and why did I get into the car?! I said she wasn't worth it, but the joke is on me because my heart won't stop aching, and my brain won't shut off!Those images from that dream are hunting me as I drive. I see the other Alice's smile, and the picture mixes with the real-life Alice I saw earlier. Their faces, eyes, and smiles—it's all the same!"Damn," I say while driving and suck in a deep breath. "That dream really messed me up..."Tears are stinging behind my eyelids, but I don't shed them. I'm a grown man, for fuck's sake. It would be stupid to cry over something like this, and yet... Yet I'm close. I was about to have a fifth daughter in that dream—I held Lily in my arms. She was perfect. Cute and adorable with tiny little toes. Her lion mane was a mess, and she smiled when I held her. How will I forget about her?And Alice... Fuck Alice. She isn't mine. I don't even know her in real life, yet when I saw how Andr
AliceI've had the best week ever!Winnie has quickly become my best friend. We are both studying prelaw, but there is a difference between us: her heart is in it. But I, on the other hand, honestly don't want to become an attorney.I just want to make my parents proud. They would probably be disappointed if I told them about my dream. It's a big secret, but I want to draw. It could be for comic books. Or maybe even comics on the web?"Hm, which one should I choose..." Winnie is standing ahead of me in the food line, taking her sweet time picking her hamburger.I roll my eyes at her. "They are all the same.""Aha!" Winnie exclaims. "This one!"I have to resist the urge to laugh when she picks her food. Winnie is a character, alright, but I like her. She is my first friend, and that's precious. I never want to lose her. "Hey, Alice?" Winnie beams at me when I look over my shoulder. "I'm going to go and sit with the others. But we are sitting by the table right over there—"Winnie!"We
AliceI'm nervous. Music blasts from the frathouse, and people are lining up the street. This is the first party I've ever been to, and I'm close to freaking out from the sheer pressure. What if people will find me boring?Will I even have fun here?What if, for some reason, that doesn't make sense, people just start bullying me out of nowhere? I know the chances are slim to none, but I'm just so freaking scared and traumatized from high school. I sometimes have trouble understanding why Winnie is even willing to be my friend. My heart is booming when Winnie pats my shoulder. A wide grin has spread over her face. "Are you excited?"I try my hardest to smile. "A little." But I'm mostly scared."Good, because this is going to be fun," Winnie fishes up her phone and unlocks her screen, mumbling. "Andrew told us we could skip the line... Let me just text him to come to the door..."I try to keep it together while Winnie calls Andrew. My eyes go to the left and right, landing on all the
NathanAlice and I make quite a team, and I'm having fun. "Down you go!" Alice shouts when she manages to push another girl off the shoulders of some random bloke. "Another victory for team Nathan and Alice! Let's go!"Water splashes in my eyes, and people whistle around the pool. I don't make a move to get up, though. Alice and I are finally down to our last challenge. The next battle will be our fight against Jake and Winnie. "Ladies and gentlemen!" The judge speaks over the noise in an anchor's tone. "We are finally down to the last battle between team Alice and Nathan and Winnie and Jake! Who is going to win?!"People whistle and cheer. Some hold their glasses in the air, and a few red plastic cups float around in the pool. Gross. I wrinkle my nose in disgust, but instant happiness finds me when I look up at the dwarf sitting on my shoulders. Alice weighs nothing. She is adorably tiny yet larger-than-life in my heart. Why can't she be mine already?Seeing Alice's smile makes m
Alice"My mom will kill me if I come home like this," I hiccup and laugh at how my voice sounds. Shit. I'm wasted. A wasted squirrel. Yup, that's me. I also feel kind of... Like, I don't know. I can't be bothered. "Fuck, she is wasted," Andrew's large hands land on my shoulders, and I smile up at him. "Sup?"He tries not to smile but ends up snorting anyway. "What am I supposed to do with you?""Let Alice sleep in your bed and share the living room with my brother and me? Jake is putting Winnie in our room.""Oh, then, can Alice have your bed?""Psh, no way. I want no stray girls in my bed. Let her sleep in yours. I don't think Nathan is home anyway.""Fine."I'm not sure what is happening. I can't keep my eyes open, and the entire world is spinning. Am I being carried? I think so. "I will make you sleep in my bed.""That's nice..." I mumble. The world turns black.Later, much later, I open my eyes and find myself lying in someone else's uncomfortable bed."Shit..."My ears pick u
Alice A few weeks have passed since the party. I've become best friends with Winnie, and we hang out at the ice hockey rink daily. I'm still in the fan club for The Fighting Devils, but it seems one player, in particular, is set on ignoring me. Nathan Douglas. The night I spent with him made me realize I liked him. But Nathan, true to his word, has stayed clear of me. Whenever I walk past him on campus or watch his hockey team play, he stares through me. It's like I'm air to him. "Why won't you date Andrew?" Winnie asks me while chewing on a fry. We are eating in the dining hall. I sigh. "Because Andrew is a player?" "You could still give him a go... Unless there is someone else that you like? Someone that I don't know about?" She blinks at me with a sweet smile, and guilt gnaws at me. I haven't told Winnie that I'm crushing on Nathan. It's a secret I will take with me to the grave. It's not like we would ever become an item, anyway. And to save myself from the humiliation