“Okay, Wilson,” Wilson P. Higgsbury was standing in front of a mirror, trying to give himself a pep talk.
“You can do this. People do this all the time. It’s going to be fine. It’ll be like an experiment, yeah! An experiment! You’re testing something, and you’re going to figure out the results! Ha, science, yeah!” he was sweating bullets now. He chuckled nervously and rubbed the back of his neck. God, he was nervous. He put a shaky hand in his pocket and pulled out a strip of paper.
Talk to her.
He took a deep breath and wiped his sweaty palms on his T-Shirt. I can do this, I can do this, I can do this… he repeated the phrase over and over in his head like a mantra. He opened the bathroom door with a trembling hand and stepped out. He walked around the labyrinth of bookshelves. He was at the bookstore ran by a lady named Ms. Wickerbottom. He was a regular, buying all kinds of books on science. As the nerd he was, however, he did buy the occasional fictional novels—especially sci-fi—and books based on pre-existing franchises like TV shows.
He mostly came for the coffee, though.
It was here where he met a young lady named Willow. One day, she just went up to him to warn him not to purchase a certain sci-fi book. He tilted his head questionably, prompting her to go on a major rant on why the book was so shitty. Her hands flailed around like a conductor’s. She ranted and rambled with a fiery passion.
“The characters are pieces of cardboard, and the story meanders around while hammering in what we already know! The writing style tries to be poetic but it just…” she trailed off, rubbing the back of her neck. “Heh, excuse me for rambling, I just get passionate about this stuff.”
“No, no!” he assured her, smiling. “No worries, I liked hearing you talk.”
And so began their friendship. They ended up clicking from the start, and Wilson found himself lingering at the bookstore just to talk to her. They were both regulars, with Wilson buying a bunch of science books and Willow buying a myriad of fictional books. They've been talking for a few months at this point, and Wilson, admittedly, ended up admiring the girl. She was fiery, snarky, passionate, clever, funny, cute...and pretty. Very pretty, if he was being honest. But ever since he was little, he was an introvert, and preferred to be alone. He was very socially awkward as well. He wasn't good in social situations. He couldn't talk to people for the life of him, let alone to a woman he had been admiring for a few months now! The number of women he talked to that weren't family members was very few. Come to think of it, he rarely—if ever—talked to someone as much as he did Willow. He was not very popular as a kid, and even now he didn't have many friends. But none of them he felt as close to as he did with Willow.
He didn't know what the pounding of his heart meant for a long time. He didn't understand why it was painful to be near her and away from her at the same time. He didn’t know what the need to hold her in his arms was, or why seeing her smile made him feel all warm and fuzzy inside, or why he loved to observe her so much. He couldn’t figure out for the life of him why talking to her released a kaleidoscope of butterflies in his stomach. It was concerning, really. As a scientist, he hated not understanding things. He wanted to have a logical reason for everything. And these strange new feelings for this girl vexed him. It was only few weeks ago when he realized he actually had feelings for her. Regardless, it explained the strange biological changes that would occur when he was near her, or simply thought of her. It was then when he realized that he had a crush on this girl.
Which is what brought him here today.
He began searching through the maze of shelves, looking for Willow.
And sure enough, there she was, in the middle of the fiction aisle.
Even from a distance, he could tell that the book in her hands was The Catcher in the Rye, which happened to be one of Wilson's personal favorite books. On any other day, he would've strolled up and start a conversation with her. He probably would've emphasized how good the book was and recommended it for her.
But today wasn’t any other day.
He clenched the strip of paper in his pocket and took a deep breath. Mustering up more courage than he ever had to in his life, he edged towards her. The idea of simply walking to her felt nerve-wracking for him. He was sweating bullets. His heart was running marathons and he could almost hear it. The mere thought of attempting to say anything romantic was enough to make his legs shake.
As soon as he was about a few feet away, he opened his mouth, but the words ended up drying up on his tongue. Speaking suddenly became foreign for him. He was like a turtle retreating into his shell. Oh God, he was going to make a fool of himself, wasn't he?
His hands were clammy as all get out, and his wet palms were certainly not at all favorable for any hand holding—he wasn't sure why his mind went there of all places. He was probably beet red at this point. The idea of making any romantic advances towards her ignited a fire in his cheeks—Willow would've probably liked that. His whole face burned like a sauna. His forehead and hair were drenched in sweat.
Taking several deep breaths, he tried to say something once again. He managed to get one low, raspy sound out before his anxiety got the best of him and he couldn't say a word. God, how could anybody hit on a girl like it's nothing? He was absolutely screwing up without even saying anything! He wished he had the confidence to tell her how he felt and pull her into a suave kiss, but even thinking about it made his legs feel like jelly. Besides, that would be very ungentlemanly.
And oh God, he didn't even know what he was going to say!
Okay, Wilson, just talk to her. Everything will be fine. Just tell her how pretty she looks, compliment her personality! Women don't want men to just like them for their looks, after all...I think. J-just do it! Ask her if she would want to get lunch together sometime. Just go up to her and talk to her. Just say something normal!
"Hey, girl," he blurted out, giving her finger guns. "I wish I were adenine so I could be paired with U!"
Utter, dead silence.
Willow didn't react. She just stared blankly at him, her almost-white eyes piercing his own. Wilson was frozen in place, his eyes wide with horror. His cheeks were going hot. Did he really just say that? To her face?! Time seemed to come to a screeching halt.
WILSON! WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?!
He was internally screaming at himself for what he just did. He felt the crushing terror of blowing any chance he had with her. He couldn't breathe as Willow kept her deadpan gaze on him. He wanted to curl up and die of embarrassment and cut himself off from the world.
The room was so deadly quiet that he could hear the click of her opening up her coffee.
Willow took a long, audible sip of her coffee.
Wilson avoided the bookstore like the plague for about a week. The memory of him saying that awful pick up line replayed in his head over and over again like a broken stereo, and it haunted him the whole time. God, he completely screwed that up, didn't he? He completely blew any slim chance of her being even remotely interested.
Of course, he wouldn't mind being her friend, but after that stunt? It would weigh down any conversation with a heavy blanket of awkwardness. The idea of being in the same room as her was enough to make his heart pound.
That wasn't to say he didn't miss her. The week felt oddly empty and barren without talking to her, without her upbeat personality to brighten up his day. The days seemed dull without her adorable, flute-y laugh, or her cute, bright smile. He felt at loss at the absence of their conversations and banter and lame puns.
So, Wilson decided that tomorrow, he would go back to the bookstore and if he happened to run into her, he would just pretend like everything is normal. Pick-up line? What pick up-line?
But Wilson should've known that not being awkward is practically impossible for him; and he should've known that he would not be able to push the memory of his utter screwup to the back of his head.
“Hey!" a sudden voice came from behind him, and he let out a squeak. He turned his head to see, to his chagrin, Willow.
Oh, great... he inwardly groaned. She was certainly going to bring up what happened that day. His heart sank. His face was like a Bunsen burner, with the temperature being raised higher and higher.
"Oh!" he said, sounding like he was going through puberty. "Willow! It's, uh, it's lovely to see you today!" he let out a nervous laugh. "Nice weather we're having today!"
Oh, come on, Wilson! he scolded himself. Weather?! You're talking about the damn weather?!
"Uh, it's a little warm," he continued. It was as if his tongue was going on autopilot. The floor suddenly looked very interesting. "But, h-hey, that's summer for ya, eh? Uh, y'know, northern hemisphere, tilted directly towards the sun...But the earth is actually farthest from the sun right now, funny enough! I mean, I'm not trying to show off or be a know-it-all or something! No, not at all! I'm just, you know, I'm just saying—"
"I gotta ask ya something," Willow interrupted, her gaze unblinking.
Crap, crap, crap, crap, crap, crap...
He knew exactly where this was going. She was most certainly going to tease him about that day! She was probably going to laugh in his face for being such a failure! Or even worse, she was going to shout at him for it! Oh god, she was going to think he was some creep and never want anything to do with him again! He felt sick with anxiety. His chest ached from his pounding heart, and his stomach felt sick with butterflies and fear. He was frozen, and he didn't even realize he was staring at her, bug-eyed.
Suddenly, she slammed her hand against the wall, and Wilson let out a yelp. His gaze darted from her hand to her face. She was leaning over him with a smirk.
"Did you lose an electron? 'Cause I got my ion you."
Wilson felt the breath knocked out of him, as if her words were a physical blow. The gears in his head were whirring at top speed, trying to process what she just said. Was...did she...did she just flirt with him?! He was mimicking her response of dead silence.
Before he could respond—or even figure out how to—she scoffed and slapped something on his face before turning on her heel and trotting away.
His frozen stance melted away as he slumped standing, his arms feeling like jelly. He was in a daze of flustered shock. Was she just teasing him? Playing along with his nerdy jokes? Or was she actually hitting on him back? Surely, she wouldn't want to actually be with someone like him! Surely, he was way out of her league, right?
Oh, did she put something on his face? He tentatively touched his right cheek, and instead of feeling flushed heat, he felt a piece of paper. It came off easily, and he realized it was a sticky note.
Meet me at 12:30 this afternoon at Java Nice Day Café ❤️
If you need to call me:
203 - XXX - XXXX
P.S.: You suck at flirting :)
Wilson suddenly had the biggest, dorkiest grin on his face.