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Val&tina

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It was like Halloween, or Easter. I guess, instead of pumpkin shaped buckets, or pastel baskets, we got flat plastic bags.

Valentines day wasn’t until Sunday, but Friday, we had a little “Party” at school. That ment a cake with heart candies on it, and little messages like “Be mine,” but it wasn’t shaped like a heart. It was just a big rectangle with hearts stuck in the icing.

So, I got a slice from the middle, and took it back to my desk. Picked up my goody bag, and swept all the cards off my desk, so I could sit down. I didn’t think anything about it, but Christie just sighed.

On her way past my desk, with her slice of cake, but I was more worried about not getting much icing. In the middle, it’s mostly just cake with a little icing on top, and they didn’t even get layers in between. So, I turned it on the side first, ate the cake with a plastic fork, and saved the icing for last.

It just tasted like sugar, pink food coloring, but that doesn’t have any flavor like strawberry. I guess I thought that’s what Christie was so disappointed bye, because she got a piece out of the middle too, but boy was I wrong.

So, then, we went off to lunch, and she grabbed my bag, to hand it to me. “Oh, thanks.” She brought her’s too, and we’re supposed to keep our distance, but we had masks on, and everything. You just get kinda used to wearing the mask, and talking to people in masks, so you look at their eyes more, but a little blush showed around it on her cheeks, and it stretched out with her smile.

“So, what did you get?” I dug around in the bottom of my bag, but it was all pretty basic Valentines candy. Hearts in plastic bags, to make up for the ones we didn’t get in our icing, so I broke one of those open, and lined them up. By color/flavor, since the pink ones do taste a little like strawberry, the red ones cherry, and so on.

“Who’d you get Valentines from?” She pulled her mask down, but stuck her nose in, to smell it.

“Oh,” I crunched a handful of Strawberry pink, since those are my favorite.

“Nobody put Perfume on mine.” She pulled her mask back up over her nose, and dumped the whole bag on the table. “How about you?” I scooted over, so I could take them out. One bye one, but also make enough Distance to pull down my mask. “Snh?” I shook my head, and turned it over.

“You’re purrfect!” I turned it back around to show her Cat-woman on the front. So she could get it, and I read. To: Valerie, From: Duran.

She smiled, but with her mask up, so I couldn’t see her dimple. “What about hand made ones?”

“Uh,” I dug around again, but looking where I was going. I found the paper lace edge pretty easy. Folded in half, so it was a teardrop, but the edging didn’t go all the way around to the folded edge.

“Huh, go ahead, and open it.”

“Oh!” I had to peel it off the roll of tape, but it didn’t stick too much. Just enough to hold it shut, but all it had inside was her name. Well, tina, but nobody called her Tina before. “Snh!”

“What’s it smell like, to you?”

“I don’t know,” but I forgot to pull up my mask. So, I held it up, and closed my eyes. “Snh? I, still don’t recognize it. Snh? It smells a little familiar, but. Snh? I can’t remember where I’ve smelled it before.”

“Hhihn! You’ll get it, I’m sure.” She giggled, “It’ll come to you later, it’s just at the tip of your tongue…”

“Snh! Huh.” I folded it back, and pulled up my mask. “Yeah, thanks.”

“Don’t mention it.” She got up, “Watch my stuff, I’m gonna go get something to eat, and soak up all that sugar.”

She gave me hints. A whole bunch of hints, and they say that scent is tied to memory, but it’s such a subtle smell. Okay, first, she asked if I got any with perfume, but it’s not that. Not at all, but if she’s going to spring a pop quiz on me, for lunch.

I scooted back over to pick up the lemony yellow hearts, and pop them in my mouth. I didn’t even look at the messages, I just crunched them. To get rid of them as much as anything. I have a sweet tooth, but I like to let the flavor last.

“Snh?” It’s not citrisy, either. It’s more savory, or umami? I guess, I saw this video calling Sardines the ultimate Umami ingredient, which is weird because they don’t really eat them in Japan, but the card doesn’t smell.

Fishy. “Snh!” Oh, “OMG!” I shook my head. “She didn’t.”

“Yeah,” she set down the tray, and picked up the patty. “Chicken patty, in a heart shape, really? You want my Strawberry milk?”

“Yeah,” She set it down, and scooted back. So, I pulled up my mask, and looked around. Nobody was watching, but, you know. I don’t think she’s got it. This weaponized cold bug, they’re talking about. I mean yeah Covid 19 is short for Coronavirus, 2019, because that’s when they first discovered it, but now it’s 2 years later, and the common cold is like a Coronaviris too, but I’m just avoiding the subject.

“How did you,” I pointed down, between the folds of red paper, and pink lacy trim. “Get that smell, in there?” I even slipped my finger back, and forth, along the fold, but then I noticed something.

Well, some other things about her that I noticed before, but at the time yeah. They seemed a little weird, but with her sitting right here. Not exactly right in front of me, but a ways down the bench on the other side of the table. The first one I looked at was her haircut.

“Well, you know how you put on lipstick, and you have to blot?” She picked up a napkin, and pulled up her mask. To bite the edge, and roll her lips in between her teeth. The way you would if you just put on lipstick, to smooth out the surface, and wipe off any extra.

“Yeah, but how did you get it In the card?”

“Oh, I just folded it backwards, swiped it,” She nibbled it gently, and pulled it out one side, so it slipped out. “Then, I folded it back, the other way.”

“Mhm?” I looked up at the short patch, on the side of her head. She’d grown it out, since it had gotten cold, and having any part of your head shaved is more of a summer thing. To keep cool, but she can comb her hair out over it. One way, to cover it up, or tuck it back behind her ear to expose a little of it. Or comb it over the other way, so you can see her ear, and her head shaved off all around it. Or you could when she came back from summer vacation, before she started growing it back out.

“Uh,” I looked down, where I was still fingering the folded up card, and she looked up. Grinning, so wide the dimple sunk in, and she pulled her mask down. “I left a little space for you, to write your name in, if you want.”

I had to wait until we got back to class, to get a pen. Of course, I wrote (Val&| Right next to where she wrote |tina.) She didn’t even capitalize it, but I had to laugh. Held it up to show her, and she nodded.

Of course, that’s why she wrote it that way. She gave plenty of hints, like she left me a space to write my name. Not enough to write Valarie, unless I went diagonal around the inside of the edge, but of course it’s not about the lacy trim. It’s what’s inside that counts. “Now, class, settle down, and pay attention.”

“Um, before we start. Can I go to the bathroom, real quick?”

“You just got back from lunch.”

“Just a minute, I’ll hurry up, I promise.”

“All right, but make it quick.” Tina looked up, and followed me out as I walked around her desk. With her head, and my eyes, but I couldn’t see where they were on my body. I could try to imagine, but what does she like, about me?

I don’t know, but now that I knew what that smell was. I pulled the card out, and sniffed it in the hall. On the way, I remember the first time, I smelled it. I was thinking about a boy, Charlie? I think that’s his name, but this was way back, when? I don’t know, it was before middle school, but all he said to me was “Sorry.”

He literally bumped into me, and my forehead thumped into his chest. “Sorry.” I pulled my hair out of my face, and looked up, but then he was gone. That night, I got my fingers dirty, and I smelled them. “SnhH! Huh!”

Not just exactly like her, but she must have been super smelly to get it to last this long in the card. “Ih!”It was dry, cold, and rough, but I just pulled my underpants up, and realized I’d swiped it on the wrong side. “Snh?”

That smells more like me, but then I remembered, to late that it bends both ways. So, I folded it back, with (Val&| on one side, and |tina) on the other. Took it right back, and pretended to trip. Kicking the leg of her chair, so I could bend over, and drop it in her lap. Sit down, looking around, and cross my leg uncomfortably. As much to keep the smell in as try to figure out scissoring, in class.

“All right, you can catch up on someone’s notes. Jake? Show her you what you’ve written down.”

I had to lean over to the seat between us, where he put his notebook, but out of the corner of my eye, I saw a flash of paper, red, with white trim, and her head going down behind her desk.

“Snh?”

“Thanks,” I took his notes, and sat back. Crossed my legs, but how hard could it be? The word Scissoring is a dead giveaway.

“Now, if you look at the equation on the board.”

I nodded, and bit my lip. Wondering what that felt like. It’s only a couple inches long, even though she stopped shaving like half a year ago, but I bet it’s soft, brushing the inside of my thigh.

Oh yeah, and another hint she dropped. Right at the tip of your tongue?

So, of course she wants me to do that too, but I wonder if she shaves? All the way up, I mean of course she shaved the side of her head to look like. Well, not Miley Cyrus, but any of those celebrity girls that wore their hair short like that last year. “Mhn” I’m starting to feel. “Hm?” Something.

You know, I coulda shoulda woulda wiped my mask in there, if I thought about it, but the cold rough edge of the paper was bad enough. Not bad enough to turn me off, but god. I’ve never been this horny in my whole entire life, and I can just imagine how horny she is for me, but again. What does she see in me?

Especially now. Sitting behind me, like she always has ever since school started when they let us come in, because it was safe enough as long as we wear masks, and don’t get too close. My hair, and that’s about it. “Snh hmn!”

I wonder if she wants to smell my hair. I bet it’s stinking by now too, but when I wake up in the morning. After is fiddle off to go to sleep, thinking about boys. It’s all over my pillowcase, and it’s a nice smell to wake up to. Now I wonder what her pillowcase smells like, and does she sleep on the long side, or the short side? “Snh!” I want to smell her head, under that short drape of bangs that goes all the way around, and partly hides the side of her jaw.

Sometimes it moves, so sometimes it covers that. Rounded corner, where her jaw turns up to disappear behind her ear, and then she had to loop a back behind it. Which totally ruins the effect, but I found that I could draw that curve. Without even thinking about it. Why didn’t I think about it before?

Of course she’s gay, it’s so obvious now that I wish I could kick myself for missing it. I guess I was so preoccupied by boys that I never even thought about, the possibility that one of the girls in my class was gay. When it’s obvious. Look at the way she dresses, acts, shakes her head, and makes that face when we talk about boys.

“Huh!” No, that’s not it. Not yet, but I feel close. Does she wear boxers?

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