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An Anonymous Rose

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Annie walked slowly into her second period that day - hoodie up, face hidden away from the world, face grey and all too usual in its sunken, tired morning early-morning wake-up. But today,today was going to be ten times worse than the usual hell that she's been used to - Friday, February 14th, Valentine's Day. 

The one day of the year where the hallways become like a no-pay day for Lover's Lane, make-out sessions creeping around every corner. So yeah, not only was it the everyday lack of contact from her peers email everyday, but a bullshit excuse to rub the "oh, you're so lonely, boo-hoo," crap right in her face. The ignorance she got from everyone else never seemed to bother her - just an everyday, day-in-day-out kind of feeling. In a way, it actually kind of felt better, safer for her. She became her own safe haven, tucked away in her hoodie and shielded from this insane, obsessed world. Until today.  

"Annie....Leeanhart? " The student council president, Krista, struggled with the girl's name as she handed out anonymous roses. "Annie Leonhardt, " Annie corrected her, lifting up her hand. "Oh, here you go, Annie. Sorry about that," the innocent babyface chuckled, placing the rose delicately on her desk. "Happy Valentine's Day!" She smiled to the class, shuffling out the door with bunches of sickeningly-red roses. 'What the...' Annie thought, reading the paper, perfectly tied together with a bow at the stem, reading, "To a very special girl. Will you be my Valentine?" it read, in almost-perfect calligraphy. 'Just another lame excuse for a joke,' she thought. 'Yeah, of course,' she sighed, a slight ease of comfort in her words. 'Because who the hell would actually mean this?' 

"Oh my god, Annie, let me see it! Please please please!" her only friend, Mina, poked at her at lunch. "Ugh, Mina, please, I already told you. No." Mina sighed, "Aw, come on, Annie, you have a secret admirer! This is huge!" she giggled. "So, Annie, who do you think he is?" the pigtailed girl nudged at her. Mina was always a sappy hopeless romantic, always trying to talk on and on about the boys in school with Annie, and despite her friend's disinterest, would go on non-stop about poetry, Nicholas Sparks, and...Valentine's Day. Oh, especially Valentine's Day. "Shut up, Mina, it's probably just some kid's idea of a prank," Annie grumbled, pushing her friend away. "I think it's Armin. Yeah, it's definitely him. I see the way he looks at you in Bio, Annie," the dark-haired girl giggled. "He's a really great guy, Annie. And smart, too!" Mina continued. "Will you just shut up already? For God's sake, it's nobody, Mina, and it's not Armin! Especially not him!" she groaned, gaze immediately thrown away from her good friend. "He probably thinks I'm too scary, anyway," she mumbled, staring down at the cold floor. Her heart dropped to her stomach, a stone-hard reminder that it's impossible. He could never handle someone like her. No one could. It was a miracle to her that even Mina had held on this long, for three hellish years.   "Annie," Mina sighed, a solemn hand on her best friend's shivering hand. "I wish you wouldn't always shut people out so quickly. Just - at least give him a chance," she consoled. "And, Annie, I know that you like him, too." Shooting her head up, Annie exclaimed, "w-what the hell makes you think that?" In an instant, all the blood in her body rushed up to her face. 'No. It can't... it just can't. It's not true. It's. Not. True,' she repeated like a broken record, slowing herself down as she brought herself back into reality. Back on Earth. "Just...give him a chance,  Annie," her friend continued to sigh. "Don't judge people so quickly." 'But love isn't that hard to judge,' she remembered.  'Because I always break it.' Not much to it, as she always knew it.  

"Speak of the Devil," Mina whispered, pointing towards the blond figure walking up towards Annie. 'No,' she gulped, frozen in her seat. 'Please, anyone but him. Just... anyone but him. Please. No,' she froze, hands clammy with a throat ready to swell all the way up out through her mouth. 

"H-hey, Annie, how's it going?" the blond boy asked, words shaky as they spilled from his mouth. "I don't need any Bio help, Armin, but thank you," Annie mumbled, breaking all possible eye contact with those blushing, ocean eyes staring down right at her. Staring through her soul. And of course, Mina's quiet chuckling next to her wasn't making this any better.  "I-I-I didn't come here for that, Annie," Armin replied, scratching his head as an awkward nervous tick, making her heart sink deeper into her seat. At least when she tried to glance up at him. Even for one second. One oddly precious sliver of time, caught in by innocent blue eyes. Trying their damndest to blurt their confessions out. Anything.

"I see you got the rose," he smiled, pointing out the rose she pushed closer to her chest. "Yes," she said, turning her head closer down towards her friend. So at least she could feel - safe.   "Annie, I-I really like you, and I was wondering if, maybe..." the golden-haired boy blushed, small hues of red slowly rushing up to his tiny, rounded cheeks. Those small, youthful cheeks full of innocence that she could never even imagine touching, feeling, let alone experiencing as her own.  

"Well, my friends are both going out to eat tonight, and I was wondering if you..." "Armin," she interrupted him, rising from her seat to glance up at him, the height hovering above her shooting electric sparks through her veins. "There's....something you should know about me," she looked at him. "You see.... I'm not an easy person to be around," she confessed, her palm unknowingly pressed upon his. "Everytime I get close to someone, I break them. I'm just a cruel person overall, and I can't -" Interrupting her bleeding emotions, the boy planted a soft, gentle kiss on her cheek. His lips felt innocent on her stone-chiseled face, sculpted by the master of the bleakness of a grainy-framed past. An angel's feathers sleeping upon a bed of spiked roses. Her heart was ready to explode out from her ribcage.  "Shh, " he whispered, gingerly interlacing his fingers through hers, his most fragile practice. For the fingers that flew across the piano's keys like a dove soaring through cool air, she'd never seen a practice before far more intricate. Intoxicating, yet achingly hypnotizing. 

"It would be an honour to be broken by you, Annie," he grinned, confidence beaming across his face, slowly lifting up a few fingers, trickling under her chin, the quiet, precious china that it was.   Annie slowly allowed a small smile to peer across her face, something kept deep through heavy forests and centuries of darkness, she never felt so honest before. So genuine, all to real. She didn't need this concealing burden anymore. It will take a long time for healing, she knew - but as soon as she recognized his eyes, laced with the hopeful sunshine of tomorrow, that day didn't seem too far away anymore. 'You like him, Annie, I know you do,' her friend's words traveled through her.   'Yes, I do. Of course. I do,' she thought. 'I couldn't imagine anything different.' 

"Yes," she grinned. "I'm sorry, what?" he asked, looking intently through her emerald eyes. "Yes, I'll go out with you, Armin," she continued, her fingers gripping tighter as they remained intertwined with his. "Oh, yes, I forgot. Sorry, I can be a bit forgetful sometimes..." he chuckled nervously. "It's okay," she laughed, placing a gentle kiss on his young-looking cheek. "I like it." 

"Oh, well that's wonderful," he said, "I love seeing you smile. It's very beautiful," he added, a warm grin on his face.   "So, after school then?" Annie asked. "Oh, yes," Armin answered, a quick break from his trance. "I'll pick you up at 5, okay?" He asked. "I'll be waiting," she gleamed back at him. "I can't wait," he replied, planting another innocent kiss on her cheek. A kiss of hope. Of promise. One that called out "I care," somewhere off in the misty,   deaf air of her foggy existense. But somehow, weirdly enough, she could still hear it. 'Yeah, I can.' 

"Happy Valentine's Day, Annie," he beamed at her, locking his sweet fingers through her for the last time, just before she would meet with them again, soon, with open arms. 

In his drifting back to his friends, she mumbled,  "Happy Valentine's Day to you, too. Armin."