It’s been three and a half years. Three and a half long years of pining over Emily Sonnett. However, Valentine’s Day is next week and this year, Lindsey is determined to change that.
She just hasn’t figured out how yet.
Emily makes her nervous. Last week when Emily had asked to borrow a pencil in class, Lindsey was so distracted by her soft smile that she was barely able to sputter out a blunt “here” as she shoved a pencil in her face. Unperturbed, Emily had just raised an eyebrow and accepted the pencil, giving it a little twirl between deft fingers. That disarming smile just has a way of completely taking away Lindsey’s ability to use language.
Mal had dragged her along to Target with her a little over a week before Valentine's Day, sick of hearing her bemoan about her inability to talk to Emily. Lindsey trails her through the seasonal aisle, passing all the heart shaped boxes and pink teddy bears.
Mal pulls out a little white bear holding a red heart that says ‘Will you be my valentine?’
“Here, buy her this and the bear will do the talking.”
Lindsey shakes her head and takes the bear from Mal, putting it back on its place on the wall. “No way, it’s so generic. And cheesy.”
Mal rolls her eyes. “Yeah, have you heard yourself?”
“You literally described her eyes as ‘sparkling’ yesterday. It was gross” Mal continues.
“They were! ” Lindsey exclaims. “Anyways, have you seen her? She could have anyone in the school that she wants. I need to woo her.”
“You were barely able to say hi to her in the hallway the other day when you waved at her.” Mal says. “I don’t think you’re about to give a romantic monologue anytime soon.”
“Maybe I could write a card or something?”
They wander down to the Valentine Day card section. Perusing the cards, one in particular catches Lindsey’s eye. She bends down to pick it up.
Your Secret Admirer
She stands, turning to Mal.
“I think I just had a galaxy brain moment.”
Mal looks at the card in Lindsey’s hand and her eyes widen as she looks back at her. “Lindsey, no.”
“Why not?” Lindsey whines.
“Just ask her out like a normal person!”
Lindsey grumbles and puts the card back, but when Mal’s back is turned, grabs a package of simple stationary, putting it in her basket.
As Emily opens her locker to grab books for her first class of the day, a little piece of folded paper falls out. She bends to pick it up and turns it over to see her name written in script and a little candy heart that says ‘CUTIE’ taped to the paper. Furrowing her brows, she unfolds the paper to see more writing on what appears to be a piece of stationary paper, a simple red pattern around the edges.
Roses are red, grass is green
You’re the cutest girl that I’ve ever seen
The note is signed simply with a hand drawn heart.
Oh . Well that’s interesting. She looks at the note for clues as to whom it may be from. The handwriting is clean and neat, with a little loop on the “g’s”. If Emily had to guess, she’d be willing to put money on it being from a girl, especially with the little heart signature. Plus, she was never particularly shy about her orientation, so if one of the guys was pursuing her, they sure didn’t do their research.
What if they were still nearby and watching?
Lindsey watches from down the hall, hiding behind her locker door as Emily’s head shoots up, looking around the hallway. Lindsey jumps and jerks the rest of the way behind her locker.
Mal watches her with her arms crossed, unamused. “I thought you were going to ask her out.”
“I’m working on it.”
Lindsey risks a peek around her locker door to try and see Emily’s reaction. She’s looking back at the note in her hands and tucks it in her pocket, closing her locker and slinging her backpack over her shoulder, heading to class.
“Hiding behind your locker is ‘working on it’?”
Emily is sitting at lunch with Sam, Rose, and Kelley. Rose is imitating a TikTok video she had seen, unable to look it up with the spotty service in the school cafeteria. She looks completely ridiculous because it was one of those duet videos and she was acting out both parts, switching between frantically.
Snorting at Rose’s performance, the chocolate milk Emily is drinking comes up through her nose and dribbles down her chin, making her laugh even harder. Cackling, she wipes up the mess that the milk made with some napkins.
Once she finally calms down, she looks across the cafeteria to see none other than Lindsey Horan standing at the vending machines, looking a little lost.
She tells the others that she’s going to grab more napkins and some chips from the vending machine while she’s up and strolls over to Lindsey.
As she approaches, she can see Lindsey staring daggers at the machine, looking about five seconds away from kicking it. Emily is willing to bet that it’s a fight the machine would likely lose. By the time she reaches her side, she sees the source of Lindsey’s frustration. Just a few inches away from the bottom bin, a bag of chips is stuck, just barely caught on one of the hooks.
Emily bends down and awkwardly shoves her arm through the bottom collection bin, just barely able to reach the chips to knock them loose from the hook. She grabs the chips and hauls out her arm, rising up and holding the chips out to Lindsey.
Lindsey is blushing and takes the chips. “Thanks.”
Emily smiles warmly at her. “You’re welcome. These noodle arms are good for something!”
“Good arms--like talented, uhh good for things! Not just like good arms--”
Emily raises her eyebrow, amused at the other girl’s rambling. If she didn’t know any better, she’d think that Lindsey was flirting with her.
She had tried flirting with Lindsey years ago, when they were both freshmen on the soccer team but the taller girl had just laughed awkwardly and rushed away. Emily figured she wasn’t interested, probably straight. A huge loss to the gay community, if you asked her.
“-- but like you do have good arms-- ” Lindsey abruptly stops rambling, the blush rising higher on her cheekbones. “Um... thanks again.”
Lindsey spins around and strides away as Emily’s smile grows wider, admiring the way her blonde ponytail swings side to side. She shakes her head chuckling, as she returns to her own lunch table. Rose gives her a weird look as she sits down.
“Weren’t you going to get more napkins or something?”
“Whoops.” Emily says, remembering the excuse she gave for getting up. Really, she had just wanted to talk to Lindsey and seeing the little blush on her face was worth it, even if Emily knew it would never go anywhere.
Emily had almost forgotten about the note left in her locker until the next day, she walks into her math class and finds another folded note resting on her desk.
This note has the same script writing and stationary, this time the candy heart saying “U R a 10.”
She carefully unfolds the note to see what lays inside.
Roses are red, math has graphs
I want to be the one who makes you laugh
So it wasn’t a one-time thing. Emily is flattered but still not quite sure what to make of it. She’s re-reading when a shadow passes next to her, and she jumps, tucking the note safely in her pocket. She realizes that the shadow was Lindsey, going to her seat which is one seat back and to the left.
Lindsey plops into her seat, immediately pulling out a notebook and scratching in it, hyper focused. Emily allows herself a moment to enjoy the way Lindsey grips the pencil in her hand, tendons in her forearms shifting with each wrist movement before turning back around to face the front of the class again, the note burning a hole in her pocket for the rest of the class.
For the next couple days Emily continues finding notes all over the school, addressed to her, each with a little candy heart.
In her locker.
Roses are red, rainbows are gay
When I see your smile, it brightens my day
On her desk.
Roses are red, violets are blue,
I wish I was brave enough to go talk to you
Even on the windshield of her car.
Roses are red, your eyes are like five different colors
This one doesn’t have a rhyme, I just want to look into your eyes until I find a name for that color
That one made her laugh. Her secret admirer was funny.
With each cheesy poem, each signed heart, Emily found herself more and more charmed by the author of the notes. It was eating away at her that she didn’t know who wrote them. She had some clues.
At this point, she was almost positive that it was a girl at the school. They said they weren’t brave enough to talk to her, so it wasn’t someone she was already friends with or knew very well. But the person had also been close enough to be familiar with her eye color. She kept racking her brain, trying to think of people who fit the profile but kept coming up at a loss.
She’s hoping practice will take her mind off of it. She gets there early, earlier than everyone else, because she needed to discuss some stuff with Coach. She decides to take advantage of the empty, quiet locker room and changes before heading down the hall to the coach’s office.
She feels great after their talk, a little bounce in her step. He gave her some great feedback and told her that he sees a very bright future for her. She pushes open the door of the locker room before heading out to the field to get in a couple more stretches in before the rest of the girls got there and literally bumps into Lindsey, almost falling over in the process.
Lindsey grips her bicep, steadying her.
“You good?” Lindsey asks.
Emily looks up at Lindsey after regaining her balance, realizing how close they were standing.
She’s never really noticed Lindsey’s eyes before. They’re usually turned away, but right now they were boring into Emily’s face. Her eyes are bright, focused, intense .
Emily can’t help herself when she replies. “Better now.”
Lindsey breaks her intense gaze, ducking her head, but surprises Emily by looking back up, and staring directly at her with the hint of a smile in the corner of her lips.
“Good.” Lindsey gives a quick nod and gives Emily’s arm a quick squeeze before walking past her, out the door.
Still riding the high of her short interaction with Emily, Lindsey was on fire all practice. Each touch felt like magic and even Coach noticed her new surge of determination.
Afterwards in the locker room, Emily and Rose were doing their usual routine of doing some goofy TikTok dance, blasting music, and joking around while everyone began changing. Emboldened by the endorphins flowing through her body, Lindsey watches closely as Emily hops around, a wide smile on her face and Emily turns, catching her gaze. Her smile gets a little wider and Lindsey can’t help the shy smile she gives in response.
Emily catches Lindsey watching her from across the locker room as she dances. Wanting to pull out a little more than the shy smile she was currently giving her, Emily does a little shoulder shimmy, wiggling her eyebrows at Lindsey and is delighted to get a little giggle out of her.
Unfortunately, Becky, their captain, makes them settle down so they can vacate the locker room so Emily opens her locker, a little piece of stationary falling out. Emily doesn’t react at first, surprised and not expecting to see a note in the locker room.
Before she does anything, the note catches Rose’s eye.
“Ooooooh what’s that ?”
They both lunge for the note at the same time, but Rose beats her to it.
“Give it back.” Sonnett demands in a hushed voice.
Rose smirks and dodges her, scuttling away as Emily races after her.
“Roses are red… oh my god Sonnett is this a love note?!”
Emily shushes her, not wanting to bring attention to the note.
“Roses are red, these poems are cliche. The way you slide tackle has me feeling some kind of way ” Rose screeches. “Who is this from?!”
At this point, half the team is staring at them and Rose is distracted enough that Emily is able to snatch the note back from her.
Emily drags Rose back over to their lockers, giving her a death glare.
“Oh my god you don’t know, do you? Well it’s a girl right? Cause how else would they get in the girls’ locker room?” Rose continues in a loud voice.
“Rose,” Emily hisses, “If you shut up for one minute I’ll tell you about it.”
Rose mimes zipping her mouth and throwing away the key. Emily looks around, making sure no one is paying attention anymore, not noticing Lindsey watching in the corner of her eye.
“I’ve been getting these notes all week.” Emily mutters.
Rose jumps up on a bench. “EVERYONE! Sonnett has a secret admirer!”
“ Rose! ”
Rose gasps, like she just had an epiphany. “What if it’s someone on the team ?!” She exclaims.
This gives Emily pause. She hadn’t thought of that. It actually makes the most sense since the note hadn’t been in her locker when she got there before the team, so it was put in sometime between her talk with Coach and practice. She glances around at the other girls in the locker room as they watch the drama unfold between her and Rose. Lindsey is the only one with her back turned, bent over and rustling vigorously through her bag.
Now that she thinks of it… Lindsey had been in the locker room on her own when she ran into her… She would’ve had the opportunity.
But no. Lindsey wasn’t interested. They’d established that years ago.
“Who here has the hots for our little Sonny here?” Rose announces into the room.
Laughs and giggles arise around the room.
“Was it you? ” Rose points a dramatic finger at Kelley.
Kelley smirks “Sonny wouldn’t be able to handle me.”
Across the room, Lindsey is turning redder than a tomato. She’s pretending to rummage around in her bag so no one can see how badly she’s freaking out.
Two girls next to her are also sharing theories on who it could be.
“I don’t know, anonymous notes? Very middle school.”
“Maybe it’s one of the freshmen?”
Mal looks sympathetically at Lindsey.
Rose is still running around pointing fingers, now pointing at Mal.
“Is it YOU?” She flourishes dramatically, while Emily hides her face in her hands.
Lindsey stands up, slamming her locker shut, startling Rose into a momentary silence.
“I’m going to get a few more shots off.” She mutters to Mal as she pushes her way out of the locker room.
Emily watches her go with a thoughtful look on her face.
Lindsey’s been avoiding Emily ever since the locker room incident. She’s mortified. Those girls were right, what was she thinking with those stupid poems? Now, it was Valentine’s Day and Lindsey was beginning to accept that she just wasn’t ever going to face Emily again. She would miss her face.
She opens her locker and a note falls out. Lindsey freezes, staring at the note.
Lindsey it says, written on the folded paper with blocky letters. She flips it over and there’s a little rough sketch of her.
Feeling like she’s having an out-of-body experience, she unfolds the note to reveal a message written inside.
Roses are red, I’m so into you.
Make my day and meet me on the pitch after school.
It’s signed with the initials ‘ES’ and a little heart.
Lindsey’s heart is beating so loud she can hear it in her head.
Is this real? Is it a prank?
She recalls the way Emily looked at her when they literally ran into each other outside the locker room.
Maybe...Just maybe there’s something there.
Classes had just ended and Emily practically runs out of the school down to the soccer pitch. It was predictably empty when she got there, so she settles in the middle of the field, sitting with legs outstretched and her arms propping her up.
She had been waiting for almost fifteen minutes when Lindsey appeared next to her.
She looks up at her. “I wasn’t sure you would come.”
Lindsey sits down next to her, glancing at her hesitantly. “I wasn’t sure if I’d come either.”
“You were the one leaving me notes, right? Otherwise this is a little awkward.” Emily jokes.
Lindsey breaks eye contact, blushing and gives a little nod.
Emily bumps her shoulder into Lindsey’s side. “You know, you’re the cutest girl I’ve ever seen, too.”
Lindsey, surprised, looks over at Emily who’s watching her with a warm smile. Lindsey wracks her brain for something equally charming, but as usual, words fail her. So she looks at Emily, her light freckles, wispy flyaways, and pink lips, deciding to express herself in the only way she can think of.
She reaches out a hand, cupping Emily’s jaw and leans in, pulling her into a soft kiss.
They kiss slowly, exploring, before Lindsey breaks away, drawing a little sigh from Emily.
Emily opens and closes her mouth a few times; it’s her turn to be speechless. They make eye contact and laugh, Lindsey ducking her head and resting it on Emily’s shoulder.
“Will you be my Valentine?” Lindsey asks, half into Emily’s shoulder.
“Obviously.” Emily says, throwing an arm around Lindsey’s back, pulling her in closer.