“Hey dad! Wake up!” My five-year-old son, Aljon, woke me up from the long hours of sleep. I still feel tired and sleepy. Then it all disappeared when I remembered that today is a special day.
My day started with a bright, smiling sunshine on my face. Today is the start of a new month. I find the Month of May as a perfect time for relaxation and enjoyment.
Flowers are starting to blossom again. Small branches of the trees are starting to mature and become stiff. But the whole surrounding didn’t change at all. It is still a small town-a small town where I learned to express my inner emotions. It is the town where I met her.
As I look around, every single sight reminds me of the old me. It reminds me of the memories that were built around the corners of the street whenever I play with my neighbors. The sounds of the vehicles, the chirping of the birds, the hum of the wind, everything. Long time passed by, but still, I can draw pictures on my mind from the past twenty years of my life. It's almost 20 years passed but I can still remember every detail on how things changed little by little.
Changes started when papa separated from mama. Because of that, mama decided to migrate in U.S. I was only 8 years old when we left Spain. I missed my hometown a lot. But since I know I'm no longer in Spain, I have to adjust myself and learn different things from the beginning.
To begin with, I started to memorize the whole surrounding around our new house. The garage, the white painted fences, etc. Not only the house but the whole surrounding. Outside our new house are the long benches and the narrow little street. And there I saw Josephine Daniels for the first time.
Josephine Daniels is a talkative girl. Boyish, but I have to admit it. She’s beautiful. She has a nice blond hair and deep blue eyes. She’s lucky to have an angelic face that every one wants to see. Josephine hates to be called ‘Josephine’. She wants to be called ‘Joseph’ rather that her real name.
"Hey! Josephine, is that a new toy of yours?" yelled Sam, one of our neighbors.
"So? And besides, I don't like Josephine, I'm Joseph!" Josephine yelled back. The boys, same as her age giggled upon hearing her protest.
"So, can we take it for arbor?" Jonathan shouted. His three other subordinates followed him as they encircled Josephine to get her toy. since Josephine is boyish, she was able to knocked down all of them.
"From now on, my name is Joseph! Not Josephine, OK?!" All of the bullies ran away. I was afraid that she might punch me as well. So I hid myself beside the big tree. But because I accidentally hit the empty cans beside me, she was able to distinguish that someone is following.
"And who are you?!" She asked me loudly.
"I'm Allan." I introduced myself softly.
"And why are you stalking me?" She yelled at me again for the second time.
"Well, I just want to give you this." It's the red ribbon I found inside my old jeans. I actually don't know where it came from, but what important now is that, Josephine will not punch me like what she did to the boys a while ago.
We were both innocent and young when we first saw each other. I can clearly remember what she wears during that time. She’s wearing a blue sweater and blue jeans. Our first meeting is awkward. Josephine is being bullied by the boys. The boys are trying to take away her robot named ‘bumblebee’. Yes, bumblebee from the movie 'transformers'. And who would expect that a little girl can knock down five boys at a time? I guess no one.
Because of that red ribbon, we became playmates and good friends. Our friendship started to develop. Josephine learned to share secrets and even her deepest emotions to me. The same as me also. She is the first person to know my story. And I'm also the first person to know her story.
Josephine is a 'unica hija'. Meaning, she's the only girl in the family. Her mother died when she was young. She lives with her father and three big brothers. Whenever her brothers will lay or talk, she is always the outcast in their family. she wants to feel that she belongs. Because of that, she wants to be a boy also, so that she will be accepted by his brothers and loved by her father. She seeks for acceptance which she found in our friendship.
As years go by, our friendship remains the same. When we are young, we are very fond of playing skateboards. We still play basketball and even skateboards until we reach twenty. We still play kites outside the house during summer and plays anything we want like when we are kids. As usual, Josephine wears a black, old jeans and loose clothing as if he is a real boy. I'm always telling her that those cloths are for men.
"But I'm a man!" She insisted for the hundred times.
"No, you're not, you're still a woman." I contradicted her again.
"Whatever Allan!" She yelled as she rolled her eyes from left to right.
"Josephine, pants are for men, skirts are for women." I tried to explain again the properties of men and women but as I expected, she will contradict me again.
"But Allan, I want my brothers to accept me." Josephine said as we sat along the long bench as we watch the sunset.
"Alright, listen carefully, people will accept you if learned to accept yourself first." I tried to convince her as I looked directly at her deep blue eyes. I can see the sorrow inside. I can say that she agree a little, but not at all.
"Alright, will you accept my skateboard challenge?" She stood up in a cheerful mask although I know she's not that fine. She used to cheat herself that she is happy although I know she's not. And the only way to make herself appear in joy, skateboard is always her answer.
I accepted her challenge even though I don't want to. I just want to make her feel being accepted so, that's the least I can do.
All we have to do is to reach the finish line. Whoever reached it first will be the winner. We made our own rules that whoever lost, he or she will follow whatever the consequence of the winner is. If Josephine won, I will treat her for a week. And if I won, I will date her and she's going to wear a formal gown.
And so the race started. We are both determined to win. Josephine is really like a boy. She moves fast compared to a normal girl. She moves faster compared to Jonathan and the other guys.
"Be careful!" I yelled. I feared that she might fall. It's obvious that she's not with herself. Josephine is still looking miles away and seems to be hypnotized from something. There is a rocky side on the road and Josephine hit the rough side. She lost her balance and fell on the ground.
“Hey, Joseph! Are you alright?” I helped her to stand up. Her right leg is badly injured when she hit somewhere and twisted her leg.
“My name is Josephine.” She answered softly moaning in pain. Upon hearing that, I smiled a little thinking that she can change herself a little and be a girl herself. I know she can’t walk alone and as her friend, I carried her in my arms.
“Josephine, I won.” I said softly.
“Fine, you can date me, but not now.” She replied. It made me smile. I was so surprised. During those times, I really want to cheer up and shout for joy and jump as high as I could but I simply can’t. Besides, she is in my arms. She might fall and have another injury again.
I noticed her eyes are looking at me. Well, I don’t want to assume anything and expect from that looks.
I really like Josephine since then. I never confessed to her how I feel. It is because what she needs is ‘acceptance’ and that’s what I gave her. I accepted her for being a friend. Besides, she doesn’t need any boyfriend yet. But I know, right time will come for that.
We already talked about the date and she we both agree to have a simple date in a garden. I’m expecting that she’s not going to wear a dress but black denim jeans and a long sleeve or jacket. Whatever, all I want is her, not her looks, or even anything from her. Just my Josephine.
Seven days passed. Josephine and I don’t see each other after the skateboard race. Maybe she’s waiting for herself to get better after she was injured.
“This night will be the most memorable night for us.” I kept on telling myself that she will not feel mad at me if I confess how I really feel. Suddenly, someone knocked the door. My heart pumped faster than the usual. I face the mirror once again and check if my hair is OK. Then I opened the door. It was Jonathan.
“Hey, everything’s ready!” Jonathan said gladly.
“H-how is she?” I asked nervously.
“She’s ready. C’mon! Fetch her home.” He replied. So I went to her house and pick her up for our date.
I nervously knocked the door three times but it opened immediately. A lady wearing a white dress and a silver necklace came out. No wonder, from her blonde hair and blue eyes, its Josephine. But something is different that night. She wears light make up and pink lips stick together with a golden dangling earrings that her mother left to her, plus the red ribbon tied on her hair. It is the red ribbon that I gave to her when we first saw each other.
“Hey!” she smiled at me.
“Wow, you look..beautiful.” My voice is shaking. I don’t know what to say. She’s really beautiful, but I don’t know if she will like it, for she likes to describe herself as ‘handsome’. I also don’t know if I will escort her hand or no. No one ever touched those soft hands by a male because she doesn’t want, too.
“Are you not going to escort me?” she replied demandingly. It was a surprise response. My eyes sparkled for the second time.
“W-well, uh” I’m not yet done talking when she grabbed my arms.
“What are we waiting for? Let’s go!” she said with a smile on her face. During those times, I was blushing too, much. I know she noticed it but she didn’t mention it at all. I cannot speak or even look at her. My true feelings might be revealed. Besides, we are best friends and that’s what she wants for life. I thought so.
I brought her to the place where we saw each other. That is my favorite place. You can see the moon shining brightly above the skies together with the twinkling stars.
We sat down together in the white benches. The air is quite cold and heavy. I gave her my jacket for she might catch some colds.
“Hey, are you alright? You’re still not talking to me lately.” I din not respond.
“By the way, why did you bring me here?” A followed-up question sprouts to her talkative mouth again. I look at her and as I response “For many reasons.”
“This is where we first saw each other and became friends.” I replied shortly. I don’t know how to start what I want to say but I prepared all my strengths to speak.
“I see.” She nodded her head and smiled.
“And this is where our friendship will end.” I continued. It made her shock.
“And will start a new relationship.” I added and look straight at her eyes. Confessing a real emotion to someone is the hardest task I ever done, especially for a ‘friend’ for she might not understand how I feel.
“H-hey” she replied shortly. Her eyebrows met at the center of her forehead. You can see confusion all over her eyes.
“Hey? My name’s Allan, not hey. Anyway…” I feel upset for being called as hey as if she never knew me and has no name at all.
“Because..I’m confused. I no longer want to call you Allan. I want you to be my babe.” Her ground-breaking reply made me very aghast. I never expect her to reply like that.
A moment of silence stood between us. Then her eyes grew sorrowful. She walked away and cried. I followed her immediately and seize hand back to me.
“Wait, did I say something wrong?” I asked with a low but little worried tone of voice.
“Do you know what’s wrong? You made me wait for so long! I thought I’m just a friend for you. I tried my very best to forget you and that’s too, painful! And when we had the skateboard racing and heard your consequence, I was so happy that you are going to date me if I lost! I’m very happy, even though the reason behind this date is only a consequence!” She continued talking. She doesn’t notice the tears that simultaneously falling on her cheeks.
I cannot do anything but to apologize. But I know words are not enough. Without a second thought, I kissed her on her lips. Her lips are so soft and gentle. I can’t stop my hands to continue touching her waist.
“Is that a part of the consequence?” Josephine spoke after the kissing moment. I replied to her question by simply kissing her again.
And that is my second memorable night of my life-the first time I kissed Josephine under the moonlight as the branches of trees sway together with the rhythm of our hearts.
“And the first memorable night of my life is..our wedding day.” I answered my son to his curious question. From there, I realized that the first love’s kiss is sweet. But it’s even sweeter if it’s a kiss of ‘forever’.
“Oh, what’s the third?” My son, Aljon asked again. It made me laugh, as well as my wife, Josephine.
Josephine and I get married six years ago. And now, we received a wonderful gift from God-our son, Aljon. His name came from me and my wife- Al from Allan, and Jo from Josephine. It became Aljon because of Jonathan, his god father. It is only his suggestion.
“Happy anniversary, honey.” I kissed her on her cheek. As a response to my kiss, she hangs her arm on my neck and kisses my lips. Suddenly, a light flashed towards us. Aljon took a picture of us-the sweetest portrait of all time.