Words to include: shave, helmet, birthday.
With a huff he blew the chin length hair out of his face. It was clearly going to be one of those days. Gabe had just realised something very important, he loved a girl. Not just any girl, no this girl was the one, he was sure of it! They’d been talking all year in Biology class and over time everything that wasn’t biology class felt less and less important. Suddenly he found himself longing to sit through Mr Barnes’ long and sleep-inducing mitosis lectures just so that he could spend the time whispering and passing notes to Chelsea.
His favourite thing to do was make stupid drawings of Mr Barnes so that Chelsea would giggle uncontrollably, having to stifle herself mid-laugh so that hopefully Mr Barnes wouldn’t notice. Luckily he was so deaf he barely ever did, but it was enough to build a sense of comradery and danger between the unlikely pair. Plus it gave Gabe a chance to stare at her face while she laughed.
He always thought she was prettiest when she laughed. Everytime her nose would crinkle bringing her freckles closer together, and her ginger hair would fall ever so slightly around her face. She’d always look down at her feet when she giggled, and then she’d look up at him, see him staring at her, and when she caught him in the act she would always ask, “what are you staring at?” To which he always replied, “ah, nothing,” which made her giggle even more.
She really did like to giggle, which is one of the reasons Gabe really believes she is the one, and why he’s been waiting in line for 2 hours to buy her a vintage record of her favourite song from the 70’s, Back in the USSR by the Beatles. Gabe had thought it would be a breeze, that he’d be able to just waltz in, find the record and buy it in a matter of minutes, but as per usual that wasn’t the case. He thought maybe it was because it was the only record store in Melbourne that did fire sales like this, or perhaps it was just because it was in Brunswick and Gabe had severely underestimated the sheer number of hipsters in the area, and who would be willing to travel out of their way just for a sale. Gabe clearly thought it was the latter.
Finally the door opened and the crowd rushed in. As he went past the door he saw a sign “opening at 11am today. Got stuff to do this morning, soz.” And with a very aggressive huff, clearly trying to get rid of some of that negative energy, Gabe blew the chin length hair out of his face and over the back of his head. It was going to be one of those days.
In the store it was much easier to find what he needed, the Beatles section was huge! But as he started looking for the single he noticed it wasn’t there anymore, someone had already bought it. He found the right record with the song on it, but it was unfortunately way out of his price range. He had the right amount of money, yes, but he hadn’t planned on spending it all. He needed some of that for public transport after all. He mulled and paced up and down the aisle trying to come to a decision and said “screw it, I’ll just have to find another way.”
And to his credit he did find another way, which unfortunately involved not paying for his train/tram ticket at all. He ran to the tram with his flashy new record in hand and jumped on, happy that he’d made it this far. The tram into the city was fine but once he reached the train station he met a whole new problem, people. Don’t get him wrong, there had been people on the tram earlier, but no one had even noticed he got on let alone that he hadn’t paid. The footy must’ve been on at lunch time because Jolimont station was absolutely packed. He hadn’t really thought this through. He’d thought he’d be safer here because you don’t have to jump over the ticket gates to get in, that would be too obvious. No, you can just walk into the platform here without anyone noticing, except for the fact that there were countless people who definitely would notice right now.
He walked through the gate and made a motion as though he was tapping on his Myki card and surprisingly, nobody noticed. With a sigh of relief he stepped onto the next train heading to Collingwood and sat down, finally relaxing. Until he noticed the public transport officer, aka ticket inspector, walking up the train towards him. Panic started to set in. He stared at the inspector as they slowly made their way down the train. Stop after stop they got closer and closer. They were coming right at him! Oh god, this was it. He’d never be able to pay a fine like that. He got ready to run, but as the officer got close they pivoted and stood in front of the door waiting for the next stop. He relaxed a little. The train stopped and someone tapped him on the shoulder, “why so tense? Everything ok?” He looked up and there was a ticket inspector right next to him. Panic stricken he replied, “yeah, everything’s great! I just remembered this is actually my stop.” And he got up and very inconspicuously ran as fast as he could out of the train, as fast as he could carrying a record at least.
He kept running and running until he finally realised he didn’t know where he was. He got his phone out and noticed he had gotten off at the wrong station. He slapped his head in exasperation and followed his phone map to her house, taking him half an hour longer than he had hoped. He finally got to her house, a small old workers cottage just outside Collingwood station at twelve o’clock, and started knocking. He kept knocking and knocking but no answer. He was getting very worried. Five minutes then ten minutes, but still no answer from Chelsea or her parents.
“Hello, whatcha doin’?” Gabe almost jumped out of his own skin but it was just Chelsea’s neighbour. “I came to see Chelsea, is she in?” He replied. “Oh, you don’t know?”
“Don’t know what?” Said Gabe. He was getting very frustrated the longer this strange journey got. All he wanted to do was get to the girl he loved, give her a nice gift and tell her how he felt. Was that so much to ask?
“Oh, her whole family just left to go to the airport. They’re moving to America tonight.”
“WHAT?” Shrieked Gabe. Clearly it was too much of an ask then because the world must be conspiring against him.
“What did you want to talk to Chelsea about?”
“When did this happen? When did they decide they were moving?” Pleaded Gabe.
“Oh, they only just found out. The dad got an incredible job offer he just couldn’t refuse that starts on Monday, so they’re taking what they can now and sending for the rest later.” Never had he had such a shit day, least of all on a Saturday! Rage was beginning to build inside him. He was conflicted, should he keep going and get to her no matter how hard it got, or give up on her because no girl could be worth his sanity? Surely it couldn’t get worse in one day? That couldn’t be possible? And didn’t he owe it to her and himself to at least try?
“You look a bit conflicted there buddy. Everything ok?” Said the neighbour.
“Oh, uh. No, not really. I love Chelsea and I was coming here to tell her that. I finally got up the courage to ask her out and she’s moving halfway across the world. Just my luck.”
“Oh really?…. You know what, how about I take you to the airport? You seem like a sweet kid and I’m a sucker for a grand romantic gesture. If we leave now we can catch them.”
“Really?” Maybe his luck was changing after all.
“Sure, but you’ll have to hold onto me and I don’t have a second helmet so, just hold on extra tight I guess.” The neighbour shrugged like it meant nothing but Gabe wasn’t convinced. He started thinking about what would happen if he just went home now. Called it in.
He’d go home, put the record away somewhere he’d never see it again and go on with life like it had never happened. And then his heart started to ache. It started to throb painfully like it had been beaten and bruised, barely able to stand let alone beat along to the rhythm of life. So he said to the neighbour, “ok, let’s do this,” hoping beyond all else as he hopped on the bike, that he wouldn’t regret doing this and that this girl was worth all the trouble. Oh god, what if she said no?! He tried to tell the neighbour to not worry and let him off now, forgetting this whole thing had ever happened, but he’d already started the engine and before Gabe could panic too much, the bike was off, leaving those anxious thoughts behind him as he started to severely panic about staying on the bike instead.
After all, didn’t he owe it to himself to see this through? Plus running to the airport to catch the one you love before they leave is the most romantic gesture anyone can ever make. Suddenly Gabe actually started to feel confident, like he could do this, like he wasn’t completely insane to keep going. To hell with it, he was gonna give her a chance, because what did he have to lose?
It turns out, he could lose a lot more than he thought.
They were driving full pelt through the airport traffic, weaving in and out of cars and Gabe wasn’t sure he felt safe anymore.
“Uh, are you sure this is safe?” Screamed Gabe.
“Huh? Oh yeah, totally. Don’t worry I’ve been riding for years. Only ever had one very minor accident so no need to worry, I’m an expert.”
“Wait, what?!” Screamed Gabe again, this time a bit more panicked. But his voice seemed to get pulled out of him and left behind as they sped up yet again. It was difficult for him to concentrate on anything other than holding on. His hands were turning white and his fingers were sore from gripping each other around the neighbour’s waist. But then he started to slow down a bit, in fact he was matching the pace of the car next to them. He looked over and sure enough there she was, there was Chelsea. Dressed in one of her dowdiest dresses she looked a bit sad in the backseat and then suddenly very angry? She looked like she was strangling something in her lap. What could ever make someone so kind and positive so angry and sad? She threw her Nintendo 3DS aside, having just lost to one of the biggest bosses, Ganendorf of the Zelda games.
He was so entranced by her and couldn’t stop staring. She was starting to turn her head towards them when they suddenly sped up again. The traffic had cleared ahead of them and the Neighbour now had a clear shot forward again. They were going to beat them there, they were actually going to do it! Elated, Gabe felt the confidence oozing from him and immediately corrected his posture, reflecting how tall he felt inside, just as the neighbour shouted, “duck!”
“What did you-” replied Gabe as the top of his head was very closely skimmed by a dangerously low hanging sign.
Shock spread through his body. What on earth just happened? Surely whatever it was had just missed him, right? He felt the top of his head and felt a bit of blood and a whole lot of stubble. He started to shriek at the top of his lungs.
“What, what’s wrong? You did duck didn’t you?”
“What happened to my head?!” Gabe screamed back at him. The neighbour pulled over and turned around to face him, barely able to hold back the laughter. “Nice haircut.” He sniggered. Gabe grabbed his phone from his pocket and turned on selfie mode. He had a massive bold patch in the middle of his head, his shoulder length hair still dangling around the sides. He looked like a very creepy 40 year old man who never grew past puberty. The neighbour was now doubled over with laughter.
Gabe was truly ready to give in, but for some reason he felt as though he had already sacrificed so much, surely nothing worse could happen than this? Surely he owed it to himself and his possible future wife to keep going and see it all through? So he formulated an action plan.
First they got off the freeway and headed to the nearest hairdresser for a quick shave. Inside the hairdresser asked, “what on earth happened to you?” To which Gabe replied, “too much. Now please shave quickly, we’ve got a plane to catch.” So she did and they were out of there like a flash, heading to the next location, a motorbike shop right next to the freeway entrance, where the neighbour who Gabe had only just found out was actually named Enrique, bought a second helmet for him and any future passengers of the back of his motorcycle. Finally prepared to face whatever came next, Gabe and Enrique sped off, determined to catch Chelsea and her family at the airport.
Gabe Shouldn’t have been surprised at all really, given Enrique’s track record, but they somehow managed to catch up to them at the airport. Gabe was truly shocked to see that they were parking in the short term car park. This job must really be something if they’re willing to pay over $100 for parking.
Enrique and Gabe followed closely behind until Gabe found the perfect moment to strike. She was waiting in line with her parents and their single suitcase. Gabe ran up to her as quickly as he could and said, “Hey.” Chelsea whipped around in shock and couldn’t stop smiling when she saw his face. “Wow, what happened to your hair? It’s not my birthday, so why the nice surprise?” She started giggling at her own cheekiness as Gabe went bright red from the compliment. “Are you going on a holiday somewhere? And what is Enrique doing here?” She asked him. Gabe couldn’t stop smiling, not now that he was in her presence. He barely even paid attention to what she’d just said. He was too busy focussing on her dewy lips and her deep blue-green eyes. He couldn’t keep it in any longer, not after all he’d been through. Like a flood of emotion it all spilled out of him, “Chelsea, I love you please don’t go to America!” Everyone in the line was a bit shocked but seemed to be mostly excited. After all, they might get to see one of those incredibly rare and romantic moments that are usually only reserved for rom-coms. Gabe’s plan was working.
Chelsea stood there gaping at him, trying to process a reaction in real time. Her parents were looking on, very confused at what they were seeing. Chelsea was so frozen she didn’t say anything for a very awkward and long minute. So her mum chimed in for her instead, “she’s not going to America yet. Her dad’s heading over now but we’re going to stay back until Chelsea finishes the year at school.” Quite chuffed with herself and proud of her daughter growing up so quickly, she moved back into position watching over her daughter, effectively handing over the baton to Gabe. And with that last comment Enrique sauntered off towards the corner, blending into the background as inconspicuously as he could.
Chelsea lurched towards Gabe so quickly the look on his face made it seem as though she’d literally jumped out of her own skin in order to launch herself at him. She assaulted his lips so violently the look of surprise turned into a look that screamed, ‘get me out of here!’ and then he started to relax, and she started to relax as the tension seemed to seep out of them both as they melded together, unable to break each other’s grasp. Chelsea’s parents looked on, unsure what to do. After a minute of watching them kiss, they tried their best to drag them apart, but it was like they were super glued together.
Needless to say after that grand romantic gesture they became boyfriend and girlfriend. They were ridiculously happy and spent most of their time making out and listening to the Beatles. Unfortunately it only lasted a month.