It's a quarter before 7 and I'm pacing back and forth in front of my full-length mirror. Am I wearing the right shoes? Should I keep my hair up? Maybe I should put on lipstick. And even before I can settle on one question among the million buzzing in my head, I hear the doorbell ring.
"He's here," my mother calls out as she opens the front door.
It takes all of me not to rush down the two flights of stairs. Wait. I look at my reflection one last time in the mirror, carefully tuck a lone strand of hair behind my ear. It's going to be fine. You look okay.
I slowly make my way down and the first thing I see is his smile, a little lopsided but a lot adorable. I'm glad he came on time. At least I didn't have to worry if I was going to get stood up and I didn't have to deal with my parents asking me if I had imagined the whole thing.
"Hi," I manage to say, waving my hand in the air in an attempt to hide the fact that it was shaking. He waves back and there's that lopsided smile again. I feel a little light-headed.
Thankfully my parents let us go on our way without showing any embarrassing photos or sharing any TMI stories about my childhood. He opens the door to the passenger seat of his car and I climb in. I think tonight is going to be special.
"You look great," he says as he starts the car. "I'm really glad you said yes."
Three stoplights, one screeching halt because of a stray dog crossing the street, and 3 and a half songs from Ed Sheeran's X later, I realize that I haven't spoken. The fifteen minutes it takes for us to get to the restaurant might as well have been an hour.
"I'm really glad you asked me," I say belatedly. But it doesn't matter because there it is again, his lopsided smile now turning into an awkward and silly grin. This is a good thing, right?
We get to the restaurant and he lets me order whatever I want. Not the spaghetti—too messy. Not the salad—stuck-in-between-my-teeth potential, very high. Baked salmon, just right. He gets himself a burger and I don't mind that he eats with his hands and the sauce dribbles down the side of his face. We have a good laugh when I point it out.
We talk about school and how everything is getting so tough near the end of the semester. I tell him how excited I am for college. He tells me about his plans to pursue music and how he'd love to take me to see his favorite band if they ever came to Manila. I like that there's an idea of a future date even if I don't know if they're ever going to come.
When I take the last bite of my dessert, I almost don't want to. It means the night will be over soon.
"Is it okay if we walk around first?" he asks. "Your curfew isn't until about half an hour."
I nod as we make our way out of the restaurant. He takes my hand and somehow, it feels like the most natural thing in the world. I don't even look at him, but I already know that he's smiling that lopsided smile of his. I know because I am, too.
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