The Cure To Curiosity

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: January 19, 2018

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Submitted: January 19, 2018



The Cure to Curiosity

Austin Naidoo

Winter is that time of the year when you really start thinking about your life. I’m not sure why that is the case but I do know in summer it seems that you have less to worry about. Firstly, if you’re like me your summer holidays are in the Christmas season. Sorry to you northerners but for you all winter is coming. So, everyone is in a festive mood and there’s joy everywhere, me on the other hand, I would have just finished my second year of university and would be making the most of all the free time and fun I’ll have. Till then I’m experiencing the harsh realities of winter. There’s something about winter that gets you noticing the world around you. It makes me notice life and all the struggles that I’ll soon be facing. Exams are coming up and I can just here my mom’s voice in the back of my head saying: “Eli Bartholomew Graham, the only way to succeed in life is to get a degree so you need to study”. I hate it when my mom calls me by my full name because its either I’m in trouble or there’s a long lecture coming my way. I have enough lectures to deal with daily and I don’t need more. Anyway, with winter comes these issues that I must deal with.

Yes, I know it may seem that I don’t have the toughest life and that I’m just another rich spoilt brat with first world problems but I am not rich or spoilt or a brat but I do have problems. #1 I think I have made the wrong life decisions regarding what I am studying. #2 I don’t have a girlfriend (yes, I consider this a problem). #3 I did not make it for the first team in soccer. #4 I don’t have a girlfriend. I think the only reason why I have not dropped out of this course is because there’s a girl that does 3 out of the 5 classes that are the same as what I do and she is beautiful. She is objectively beautiful, if you wanted to describe beauty you would show her and not a single soul on this Earth would disagree with you. She has no name yet but I am determined to find that out. However, these things take time.

The end of the semester is approaching rather quickly and when it’s over I will not have a chance to speak to her, besides maybe acting awkward outside the exam venue or maybe getting a tiny conversation of “Hey did I have to study this” or “I am really stressing for this exam”. Besides that, I won’t be able to speak to her, so I bucked up the courage and after class went to speak to her. I was never shy at approaching girls and I’ve had a couple of relationships in high school, but none of them were really serious, but with her I was so nervous that throughout the entire lecture I was writing down exactly what I would say to her and trying to figure out every possible response she would give to me.

The lecturer ended off with “And this will be the last section we cover for this semester and I hope you all payed attention because this will be in the exam. I will see you next week where we will do some revision. Do not miss it.” When I heard this, it felt as though he was speaking directly to me because I was not paying attention at all. I made noted that next week’s revision will be very important. I usually sat in the middle and she would sit towards the front of the lecture hall. As she was walking towards the exit I stopped her and asked “Hey, you wouldn’t happen to have caught that last part he mentioned about the exam”. She replied, “Oh yeah he said that the work we covered today was really important for the exam”. “Dammit I knew I should of woke up earlier” I then said trying to think of how I can prolong this conversation. I wanted to peek at my notes but she then said, “Not to worry there’ll be revision next week and besides I’m sure you’ll be fine for the exam”. “Thanks for the help, my name’s Eli Graham and what’s yours” “Veronica Cole” she said with an honest smile and walked off.

Veronica Cole, I kept thinking about that name. That day was a Monday and the next lecture we would have together would only be the next day. I couldn’t wait that long to speak to her, so when I went home, I did what any guy would do and that’s try and find her on social media. Like every girl nowadays she did have social media and I was not sure if I should follow her or not. I didn’t even think she would remember me but I took a chance and she accepted. To my surprise her posts made sense and there wasn’t meaningless selfies or funny memes but there was the occasional Tumblr hipster picture. The more I read her posts the more I wanted to know her. Every cell in my body wanted me to message her but I knew I wouldn’t be satisfied unless I had a face-to-face conversation.

I enjoy conversations with people, I get to share my life and my experiences with them and I get to know their life stories as well. The more conversations I have with people the more I realise how different I am to them and how also very similar we are to each other. For example, my best friend who plays soccer with me (although he did make it to the first team, I do however still see him for practice) had an interesting conversation on how he grew up. His name is Nathaniel, I call him Niel for short because everyone else would call him Nate and I liked going against the flow. He actually is a spoilt rich brat, okay mind the brat part, but boy is he rich and very tall. He grew up in a mansion and never had to beg his parents or come up with a convincing plan to get the latest game or gadget. He just got it. We lived very different lifestyles but we still could relate to each other. I won’t go into details but basically, we came to the same conclusion regarding both of our parents, to put it blunt and keep this PG13; they’re really stupid sometimes.

I decided to talk to Niel about Veronica because Niel knew a lot of people. I wouldn’t say he was popular because varsity never really classified its students into a popularity hierarchy, mainly because no one really cared and people were either trying to enjoy their life or to get a degree. Anyway Niel, to my surprise knew very little of Veronica, all he knew that I didn’t know is what car she drives and where she usually parks. Niel knows this because he has a car. I don’t know this because I take the bus. There’s nothing wrong with the bus except for the usual problems you get and besides, that time spent on the bus is where you can escape, you can forget all about your problems and listen to some music, ‘Artic Monkeys’ or ‘Calvin Harris’, ‘Andy Mineo’ or ‘War of Ages’. I listen to a lot of music.

However, the bus can’t help me with problem 2 and 4, I mean I wish a random girl would just happen to sit next to me and we could start talking, exchange numbers then spend the rest of our life’s together. Wow that escalated quickly, but this is how I think. I think long term, I think ahead. And no, I’m not a skilful player at chess. However, I am good at sports, I was on the first team for everything back in High School I was also the captain of a few of them, heck we even won some tournaments. So how didn’t I make it on the first team in university. Well maybe I wasn’t good enough, that’s a lie and yes, I am being conceited but let me at least explain myself. You know in life there’s questions we just don’t know the answer to, well in this case there’s the opposite where there’s questions we know the exact answer to. I don’t mean like a maths test but more like the reason you failed your maths test. Not because the paper itself was asking you to find the square root of pi factorial! No but because you simply did not study. Plain and simple, that’s the type of answers to most of life’s question. When I say I’m not good at soccer I really am lying because the fact is I am and the reason I did not get chosen for the first team was because I allowed the pressure of society, my parents and varsity get to me. Plain and simple. I didn’t train as hard as I could of because I was focusing more on studying. That however did not help because my marks did not improve.

So, to get my mind of everything I decided to come up with a plan to talk to Veronica. So, I decided to use the help of Niel, I took the earlier bus and met Niel at the parking lot so he could show me where she usually parks. She eventually arrived and I walked towards her. I called out her name but no response, I did it again and still nothing. I thought, is she intentionally ignoring me, wow, another one of those girls. I wanted to walk right past her but ended up walking next to her saying “Hey Veronica you off to class can I join you?”, “Dude, you’re so formal only my Dad calls me Veronica” she laughed then said, “All my friends call me Rawni (pronounced the way its spelt, emphasis on the W) you should too”. I just nodded and thought of how judgemental I was.

We walked to class and sat next to each other and when the lecture was over she asked if I wanted to join her and her friends for lunch. I kindly accepted. Too my surprise it did not turn out to be an awkward lunch as most of her friends I knew through Niel so everything went smoothly, although me and Veronica (I don’t like the shortened hipster version) never spoke much. However, as the days were drawing closer to exams, I got closer to Veronica and I got to know what she likes which ironically are the things I dislike. For example, she likes vanilla I like chocolate, she’s into comedy and romance and I’m more of the horror and adventure type. I liked her anyway. She was sweet and quite intelligent, every day she would tell me about some article she read. There was even one day as I was walking to class some guy at the vending machine was kicking it because it did not give out his drink, I offered to pay for another one and he just looked at me with disgust and said, “I don’t need your charity this machines just a piece of crap” Veronica saw all of this and said “I read in an article about a man who kicked a vending machine so hard his toe broke and no one was there to help him in time so he had a permanent limp.” The student just said whatever and walked away looking at his feet cautiously to check if he maybe was limping.

I had thought things were good between us. I even started to change, my marks still remained the same but I trained harder in soccer and ended up on the first team. I think I just wanted to impress Veronica. So, I decided after the Friday class I would ask her out. I did my usual morning routine, wake up early to catch the earlier bus and then meet Niel and then walk with Veronica to class. Yes, I didn’t get enough sleep but some people are just worth going that extra mile for. But then during class Veronica got a text and told me she had to go. She walked out and I thought maybe I should follow her to see if everything’s okay. When I walked out as well I saw her in the arms of another guy, kissing who I assumed was her boyfriend. I hurried back into class hoping they never saw me. As the lecturer was continuing with his lesson my heart had sunk. I felt this betrayal. I know she didn’t lead me on or give any sign of being more than friends but I was hurt nonetheless. The lecture was over and I walked out to still see them together. I wanted to sneak past but she called me, so I did my best to hide my sadness, and put on a fake smile to show that I had some strength left in me. Veronica then introduced him to me, I wasn’t paying attention to who he was and I kept the conversation as short as possible, lied and said that I couldn’t miss the bus.

 I stood by the bus stop with the chilled winter breeze in my face, knowing the bus would only arrive in an hours’ time. Half an hour passed and I started to enjoy the coldness by the bus stop, thinking that anything is better than finding out that the girl you like has a boyfriend. Niel happened to drive pass (I don’t think it was a coincidence) and offered me a lift home. He told me they cancelled soccer practice and he had free time (Niel you are a really bad liar but a very good friend). I told him all about what had happened today. He laughed and said “Bro it happens to every guy. Sorry. But hey I know what will cheer you up, party at my place, I’ll invite all of friends except Rawni and we can get sloshed and forget the entire day happened.” I’m not a fan of getting sloshed but screw it today I didn’t really care.

Phoned mom to tell her Niel was having a party and I would stay over, she was fine with it but sounded a little bit concerned. Parties at Niels was awesome even the prep work was fun because when we would go to the store we would get a trolley and go crazy. Niel would almost always buy everything. Both our trolleys were full of booze and snacks and more booze, we even bought a chocolate fountain. We then headed back to Niels place. With everything set we played video games until our friends arrived. The first to arrive was Vivian our amateur DJ friend, who is quite excellent at the turn tables. From there more and more people had arrived after that and the party officially had begun. I was just hoping that Veronica would not walk through the door because of all our mutual friends. Unfortunately for me she did. I decided I would stay as far as possible from her. That however, turned out to be impossible, you would expect in such an enormous mansion you could get away from someone but no she was everywhere. I had then gone by the pool as I saw an opportunity to get away from her.

I thought I would have had a couple more drinks but I just couldn’t with her on my mind, so I laid down by the poolside and looked up into the star. I heard people chanting “Jump In" and then saw this cool looking girl talking to some people, and for a second I thought she was looking at me. The people she was talking to had dared each other to jump into the pool. She was left alone, and there was something about her that made me want to go talk to her, I fed my curiosity and went over to her. She was quite startled when I sat next to her, “Not a fan of swimming pools and cool nights” I said, she replied “Not when I have my favourite t-shirt on”. Amazed that she wore a Nirvana shirt I continued speaking to her. I think hours passed before I asked her what her name was. “So, by the way I’m Eli Graham the random stranger.”, “Riley Woods the girl with the nerdy glasses.” “I think those glasses are the luckiest glasses in the world”. I then saw Veronica and my facial expression completely changed. She had then asked what’s wrong and I just said, “Girl. Heart. Broken. Don’t want to speak about it.” She then looked into my eyes, held my hand and said, “It’s okay to be sad you know, you don’t have to hide it”. I looked into her chestnut brown eyes that showed pure compassion. I then leaned into kiss her, she had done the same but suddenly stopped and said, “That’s when you know you had too many drinks, better call an Uber, see you around Eli”. She walked away and I couldn’t stop staring at her, my heart was beating fast, my palms were sweaty and then there was this feeling of emptiness but there was also hope attached to it.

Niel walked over with the finest whiskey saying, “You can’t hide from me forever brother”, “Niel I just had the craziest experience”. He replied by giving me a glass and saying, “Yes I know Veronica is here. Sorry but you know how people invite others without asking, so that’s why I brought out the big guns”. Her name triggered the emotions that were gone for those past hours and I had taken the glass from Niel and downed the whole thing. The rest of the night was a blur and when I woke up I was lying on a pool inflatable. With a major headache I headed over to the guest bedroom and slept the rest of the day. I swear I had a dream where Riley and Veronica were fighting but not over me but over Niel.

Back at varsity on Monday I was sitting by a bench near my class alone thinking about the party and about Riley and then to my surprise she walked past and was a bit jittery but greeted me anyway. “Hey. How you doing? Still have that broken heart?” I replied, “Yeah it’s still in pieces but it’s getting better.” She then said, “Well I know a good ice cream place… Would you like to go with me? Ice cream always makes me feel better, even in winter”. “It’s worth a shot. Thanks” and with that she told me to meet her after her class which ended a bit later than mine. After my class ended, Veronica caught up to me so we could go to our usual hang out spot with the rest of our friends. The walk was so awkward for me but for her it of course was not. We talked normally with me most of the time faking smiles and laughs. I didn’t know how to act around her so I thought putting a façade was the best way. We eventually caught up with our friends and I saw Niel talking to Riley. “Riley just told me about this fantastic ice cream place we should go. All of us. Who’s in?” I looked at Riley but she looked just as puzzled as I was.

At the ice cream place, I ordered the ‘The death by chocolate, risen by fudge then death with more chocolate sundae’ I loved the name and it tasted as it sounded but with only the good parts. Everyone was huddled up in conversations of their own and I sort of observed from the outside. Riley stood next to me, looked me up and down and said, “You’re so short, I never noticed.” I said with a hint of annoyance in my voice, “Very funny, I’m actually the average height, you are just comparing me to Niel who is extremely tall” and I moved away from her to go sit down. Sitting down next to me she said “Look I mentioned this place to Nate because he asked where I was headed off to but he then saw you and Rawni and interrupted me before I could say I was going with you. I’m sorry”. I was about to say its ok until she said, “Can you please tell me why I’m sorry. I know you’re sad but eating ice cream with your friends does not seem like the worst thing to do in the world.” So, I told her that the problem was not her but Veronica and explained the whole boyfriend situation. She then looked away and smiled back at me but it wasn’t her usual smile. I pretended not to notice. “Hey, do you watch sports my favourite team is…” And with that we spoke for quite some time about sports then movies. I realised that everyone left including Veronica and Niel. It was just the two of us and I never noticed. I smiled looked at my phone and told Riley this was fun and I had to catch the bus but she offered to drop me at the bus stop. Her car was messy and she blasted ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, it was so Riley. I was happy for those few hours as I never once thought about Veronica until a sad song by Paramore played on the bus trip back home.

Exams have finally arrived and as usual the stress, anxiety and pressure came crashing down all together but through all of this I thought I would have seen Riley. She was not with our group of friends and she’s completely offline I thought she was just focusing on exams and never put more thought into it. I was such an idiot. Just after I wrote my second last paper Veronica had asked if we could go study for our final exam together in the library. I was still trying to stay far away from her but can’t seem to get it right I politely declined. She then said “You know you’ve been acing quite strange lately did I do something to you. Why do you act as if I don’t exist? I didn’t know what to say. Was I supposed to tell her how I feel or just walk away. I decided to walk away, I did not want to be humiliated but she grabbed my shirt, turned me around and said with determination. “Eli Graham you are going to talk to me or we are both going to stand here and fail the next exam!” As if she could hold me back but the tone of her voice was serious and I gave in. I then said with complete regret in my voice, “I’ve had the biggest crush on you ever since I saw you and I really enjoyed being around you but since I found out about your boyfriend…” I paused, “things can never be the same again.”

She looked at me as if already expecting these words to come out of my mouth. “Hold My hand and look into my eyes.” I was completely confused, she said again “Hold my hand and look into my eyes.” I was still shocked so she then eventually interlocked her fingers with mine, came closer and looked into my eyes. It felt wrong, I felt guilty and I was at a loss for words. “Do you feel that?” I said, “I just feel your hand… this is weird can you let go”. She grinned then said “Exactly there’s no… um sparks, yeah sparks. Your eyes don’t light up and my heart doesn’t beat a million times a minute… Look I love my boyfriend and when we hold hands, everything I told you and more happens. That’s when I knew I would be his forever. So, I know you wanted to be with me but life doesn’t always work the way you want it to. Sometimes things like this play out this way so the best outcome can occur. For example, if you weren’t so heartbroken that Friday you would have never had that party and you would have never met Riley. Yes, I see the way she looks at you, the way she glows when she’s around you. Please don’t tell me you never noticed.” I shook my head. “Dude you’re so stupid. I see when you around her one moment there’s the depressed version of you the next there’s hope in your eyes and you actually smile, an honest smile with her. I’m not the cure Eli.” It was a lot to take it but I smiled and told her “Thank you, your boyfriend is one lucky guy.” “Thanks, now go find your lucky girl.”, and she walked off.

Lying on my bed at home wondering if I should phone her, I spent the rest of that afternoon contemplating on what I should do. I had decided to phone her that day to have my mind at ease so that I can study the next day. I knew if I didn’t, no studying was going to get done and boy did I need it. I phoned to ask how she was doing and when was her last paper. Coincidently, we finished on the same day, so I told her to meet me at the campus pool after she had finished writing. That Friday took forever to come, even while I was studying I couldn’t stop thinking about what I should say to her the next day. Every song on my playlist reminded me of her. Am I the only one that feels that music can speak directly to your soul. It’s as if the artists knew exactly what I was going through. I couldn’t sleep one bit. Riley Woods maybe Riley Graham is what kept running through my head. I then passed the time by diving into those books.

The next day had arrived and I had finished writing my paper, it went quite well I thought to myself but I could never be too sure. As I walked to the pool I remember how badly I wanted to turn around because the more I thought about her the more everything clicked. Riley was the girl I wanted to be with not Veronica. Veronica is sweet and pretty but she doesn’t even come close to Riley. When I was being my moody self she was the one to cheer me up. Her chestnut brown eyes and lovely smile was all I needed to have a better day. But I thought to myself what if I screwed it up, why did I mention I was in love with Veronica, no girl wants to hear that. Will she ever want to be with someone as selfish as me? I reached the campus pool and there she was waiting in that iconic denim jacket of hers. I said “Hey, how are you doing, I know we haven’t spoken in a while before we talked on the phone and I need to tell you something…” She had interrupted me, “Can I tell you something first.” I nodded. “Do you know when we first met… It wasn’t at the party. Actually, we met on the first day of university I had to take the bus because my car went in for repairs. I was so anxious about the year ahead and I forgot to bring money for the bus. I had no way of going home and I was too embarrassed to ask anyone for money. Two busses had drove past already and it was getting late. You had then arrived and for some reason could sense I needed help. You then asked me if I was okay and I wanted to lie but I felt that I could trust you. So, I told you my problems and you not only paid for my bus fare but missed your own bus and waited until my bus had arrived. I was quite shy so I didn’t ask for your name but I thought to myself how did I ever meet someone so selfless. There’s nothing I could have offered you or do for you but you showed your true character by helping me. Then when I saw you at the party I was completely flustered. And when I got to know you better I really started to fall for you. I started to run into you by ‘accident’ all the time so that I could spend more time with you and maybe you would get over the girl who broke your heart and fall for me. But all of it didn’t matter when I found out you were in love with Veronica… And there’s no ways you will want to be with plain Riley, if you thought there was even the slightest chance that you would be with Veronica. I could never compete with her she’s the perfect girl…”

“But she’s not perfect for me, you are. At the party, I wasn’t drunk and neither were you I remember everything about you, your glasses, your denim jacket, which is the one you are wearing right now, the Nirvana logo on your shirt, the white superstar sneakers and when you leaned closer there was no alcohol smell on you but a sweet fragrance.” I paused, looked at my hands and said, “Hold my hand and look into my eyes.” She looked confused but slowly reached out to grab my hand and then she gently looked into my eyes. And It happened, the sparks. Her eyes lit up and my heart was beating a million times a minute. “Do you feel that?” She hesitated. I let go and said, “What will it take to just go on one date with you, I’ll jump right now into the pool. I want to be with you Riley Woods.” As I said that I was mid-flight towards the deep end of the pool. I couldn’t tell but I thought she said something before the water engulfed me. The water was freezing, I was dripping wet and then I got out and laid on the grass. I was looking at the clear blue sky and she then appeared over me. She took off her jacket and wiped my hair with it and said “I missed my chance to kiss you at the party. Is now a good time?” I smiled, then she had laid down next to me, stared into my eyes and our lips touched. My winter had then ended.

© Copyright 2018 Austin Naidoo. All rights reserved.

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