I remember my first crush. I was barely twelve years old, chubby-cheeked and completely naive. My hands would tremble whenever he walked past me in our school hallway, maintaining the perfectly rhythmic bounce that only ‘big boys’ had. At first, I didn’t understand why my heartbeat would quicken whenever I saw him. I would cry myself to sleep at night listening to Chris Brown’s No Air and fill my dreams with conversations that would never happen.
Then it happened! The most miraculous thing happened; my crush stared at me. It was at summer school, classes had ended for the day and everyone was by the basketball court. I blinked twice and darted my eyes around, checking to see if there was anything that would’ve made him look my way- everyone was in their own world, nothing was out of place. “Pinch me.” I whispered to Ify, my best friend “I think I’m dreaming”. She looked over at me, confused “huh?” she said. I stared at her. Ify shook her head, her wooden hair beads rattling at the tip of her braids as if annoyed with my silence. “This girl,” She began “You play too much. Let’s go, my mum is around” she said, standing up from the bench and heading to the school gate.
I grabbed Ify’s hand, stopping her mid-stride. She squinted at me, “What?” she asked. Surely there had been a spark somewhere, I know what I saw. I couldn’t have imagined that, right? I thought. “I think Kay was staring at me.” I blurted out. “Are you serious?” she squealed, excitement flashing in her eyes. “I’m not sure.” I replied. “Do you want to check?” she asked “Just check and confirm. We’re almost at the gate. It’s now or never” she urged, squeezing my arm. “Okay. Okay.” I said, my heart racing. “One, two..” I took a deep breath and clenched my fists. We turned. He wasn’t looking.
Ify let out a sad sigh, touching my shoulder “Are you okay?” she asked. I stared at her concerned face, tears clouding my sight. “It’s okay, let’s go.” I said, marching to the gate, wishing the ground would swallow me.
I never got to speak to him till I left that school. Now, I laugh about how silly I was back then but secretly, I console myself with the thought that if I had looked for a second longer, maybe, just maybe, he would’ve turned and looked back at me.