Just a Little Bit of Love
Three short stories about three young girls: Anita, Ina, and Carla. Each one finding their lives disrupted by a boy. Maybe it’s because he wanders into the coffee shop where she works after school every Tuesday. Maybe it’s because he won’t leave her alone even if she has made it clear that she is crushing on his football teammate. Or maybe it’s because she’s spent one unforgettable afternoon with him—despite being oh-so-forgetful. Three small doses of love that serve up a whole lot of feels.
After we walk in silence for a few seconds, John speaks up again. “Are you going to the game this weekend?” My heart as good as stops. I never watch the games. I don’t think my nerves can handle them. Or that’s what I tell myself anyway. Robert goes with a few of his friends. Football is big in our school—and it helps that the players (yes, not just Ethan) are hot.
“Um,” I begin, hoping my brain can come up with an instant excuse.
“You’re not going.” Is that disappointment I hear in his voice? I slow down and turn to him.
“It’s not a big game, right? Isn’t it just a friendly one?” I know this isn’t the right thing to say to a player. Support means the same, whether it’s during an exhibition game or the championship.
“Yes but…” I watch him do that my-struggle-to-read-Shakespeare-is-real expression and the part inside me that he turned soft and gooey a few days ago, melts into a deep puddle of mush.
“Okay I’ll go.” It comes out in a rush, in one quick breath before I can change my mind. The light in his eyes is enough to affirm that I said the right thing and my heart does a speedy, little tap dance.
“I’ll make sure to put my masterful dribbling skills on display.” You think he says this with his usual smirk. But that’s not what I see. His face is devoid of pretense, smugness, or any emotion other than pure anticipation. Like a seven-year-old who has practiced “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” on the kazoo and can’t wait for his absentee parents to hear him play it in front of an appreciative audience. I am that absentee parent who keeps pushing him away, keeping him where I can see him but no closer—definitely not near my heart.
I look away from the emotional assault on my confused senses and mumble, “You do that.”
Then I feel soft lips on my cheek, but as quickly as they land, they are snatched away. When I look up with the shock and realization of what just happened, John is sprinting up the stairs, probably to his next class. It is then that I know it’s time I stop pretending. Because the way my chest aches and my hands tremble, it seems while my head was too busy obsessing over Ethan, my heart decided to follow a path of its own.
Ines Bautista-Yao is the author of One Crazy Summer, What’s in your Heart, and Only a Kiss. She has also written two short stories, “Flashbacks and Echoes,” which is part of a compilation called All This Wanting and “A Captured Dream,” one of the four short stories in Sola Musica: Love Notes from a Festival.
She is the former editor-in-chief of Candy and K-Zone magazines and a former high school and college English and Literature teacher. She is also a wife and mom and blogs about the many challenges and joys of motherhood at theeverydayprojectblog.com. She has recently launched The Author Project, a section in her current blog devoted to the stories in her head.
- How did you start writing? What was it that prompted you to go into this?
I started writing stories when I was a kid. I don’t remember how it started exactly but I know I always brought around a notebook and pen and whenever I got the chance, I was always continuing my ‘novel.’ Haha! I had lots of unfinished ones because new ideas would always pop into my head. My muse was busy. Or had ADHD!
But my writing career started in Summit. I joined as the managing editor of Candy magazine, a local teen mag, then I launched K-Zone magazine (a mag for kids) as editor in chief, then I moved back to Candy as editor in chief. When I left Summit, I edited the Summit chick lit books as a freelancer. I also edited other magazines for Summit but they were just small projects.
After I got pregnant, I figured, why not try writing a chick lit book myself? So, I started writing one and I hated it. Three years later, I happened upon that word file again — hidden in a folder within a folder — and thought it didn’t suck as much as I thought it did. It went on to become One Crazy Summer, my first book 🙂
- What inspires you to write?
Anything really. A conversation, lyrics of a song I happen to catch on the radio, the pretty design on a soap dispenser, anything!
- If you were to write something out of your comfort zone, what would that be?
Fantasy!!! And mystery! I attempted to do fantasy for a short story once and it was like a hint of magic. I would love to do a full-blown Filipino one! Same goes for mystery. I attempted – got as far as the outline and chickened out.
- If you were a heroine in your own book, how would you describe you?
Frazzled, exhausted, and completely spent after being awake for only a few hours that morning, she pours herself a steaming cup of ginger tea from a pale blue teapot, a Christmas gift from her former officemates. She squeezes out a tablespoon of honey and stirs it into her favorite mug, one with her name in bright pink letters and a drawing of a girl all snuggled up and cozy on a couch next to a pile of books. She lifts the mug to her lips and blows on it, waiting for the high-pitched sounds of children to signal the end of the only quiet she will know for the rest of the day. She flips open her laptop, scans the words she wrote the night before and smiles. She will add to them later, after she drinks her tea. Or maybe right now. Then she hears a sharp cry pierce the air and the distinctive call, “Mama!” Well, maybe she won’t add to her words right now. Right now, her babies need her. Besides, the stories will always be there, waiting till she’s ready to give them her full attention once more.
- What is the best advice you can ever give an aspiring author?
Don’t give up. There will be times when you’ll feel like you’re the worst writer in the world or that no one will ever read your books, but if you keep at it long enough and hard enough, and work on improving your craft every single day, the readers will come. But at the same time, don’t quit your day job just yet 🙂
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