Apples

Heartache 101 ~Sour into Sweet~

       “What did you get for question #8?” asks Takuya.
       “That was the one where you calculate the distance on the map?” I ask.
       “Yeah.”
       “2,750 kms.”
       “Good. Good.”
       I sit back in my chair as we finish checking the last problem. "Hey man. I’ve always wondered. Why do you still need to check answers with me? You’ve got much better grades.”

       "I call it the Idiot Test. I gotta make sure my answers don't match yours," he says.
       "You!" I raise my fist in mock anger.
       "Hey, I'm kidding! I'm kidding!" laughs Takuya.
       Takuya, my best bud. Average height and build. Easy going guy. Academically, Takuya ranks pretty high, and I'm nowhere near him. Despite that, we still double check our homework answers daily, a habit we picked up when high school started. In all honesty, if anyone gets the better of the exchange it's definitely me, but Takuya always makes it sound like I’m helping him. No wonder everyone likes him. Must be something he learned in student council. He's the secretary I think.
       “Dude. I’m going after a girl,” I begin.
       “Hiroto finally discovers that we have women here! Hurray! All cheer!” he announces. “Any particular reason why now?”
       I briefly tell him about the 101 days competition with Miki.
       “So you have to get a girlfriend in 101 days or you’ll have to streak?” asks Takuya.
       “Yeah, so that’s why I’m going after a girl,” I say. “And I want a girlfriend too.”
       “I know! It’s that girl, right?”
       “Which girl?” I quirk my eyebrow.
       “You know, the one with the almond eyes, button nose, and cute dimples.”
       “You mean Miki?” Cute dimples? What!
       "Yeah, Nakajima Miki. Aren't you guys seeing each other?" 
       "Heavens no!"
       "It's just that you two seem so fond of each other, that's all." 
       "Fond of each other? You’re seriously mistaken, my friend. She's just my next door neighbor who likes to pester me." 
       "Whatever you say. So, if not her, then who?" 
       I take a deep breath. "Kaneshiro Shihoko."
       His face has 'You've got to be kidding me.' written all over it. "The GODDESS? You're going after THE Goddess herself? That puts you in competition with oh, I don’t know, like half the male population in this school. That’s not even counting her inter-school fan club."
“Yeah, I know.”

       Kaneshiro Shihoko, the undisputed celestial being of our school. The very definition of beauty. How beautiful is she? Let's just say you could slap her into one of those AKB48 posters at Akihabara, and she would fit right in with the other teenage pop idols. Actually, she might outshine a good number of them. 
       She’s in the third year, which means she’s my senior. She’s also the school’s star tennis player. EVERYONE in our school knows about the tennis team. Probably because they win championships year after year. Plus their entire team looks hot, with Shihoko being the hottest of them all.
       "She's like Constantinople, nigh impregnable," declares Takuya.
       "Cons-what? You know I have no idea what that is! Stop showing off, you ace student!"
       "You really should pay more attention in class, Hiroto. Fine. She's like a citadel. A shogun's castle. The Last Boss. Okay?"
       "That's why I'm gonna do something BIG!" I open my arms for emphasis.
       "Like what? Sing your love for her over the intercom?"
       "I actually thought of that. Like maybe sing her a song with lots of I love you's in it."
       "Knowing your voice, there'll be a lynch mob outside the broadcast room before you're halfway through."
       "I got a better plan."
       "Shoot."
       I cup my hand and whisper conspiratorially, “Get this. I’m gonna get her 1001…apples!”
       He looks at me blankly for a moment.
       "Apples?" he asks.
       "Apples," I confirm.
       “Just curious, Hiroto, why apples?”
       "Because apples have to do with Snow White. I want to say she's like Snow White to me."
       "Huh."
       “Besides, who doesn’t like apples?”
       “I’m not doubting anyone’s love of apples. I’m just saying, when you give a girl lotsa something, it's usually roses.”
       “First of all, I can’t afford 1001 roses.”
       “And you can afford 1001 apples?”
       “My teammate Kentaro. His family owns an apple farm. I talked to him earlier and made a deal: if I work at their farm he’ll give me 1001 apples in exchange. I’ve worked it out. I just need to work there every other day for about three weeks. It’s a great deal!” I say.
       “You gonna quit your Sunday janitor job?” asks Takuya.
       “No! I’ll need that to make money so I’ll have enough to go on dates with Shihoko. I’ll work two jobs for a time.”
       "Suppose you manage to get this mountain of apples - I AM assuming you're not just gonna dump it on her - what do you plan to do with it?"
       I gesture excitedly. "That's what I need you to help me with. I can't do this alone. You know the school entrance? I was thinking of arranging the apples in a big heart in front of it. And maybe I can spell ‘I love you’ or ‘Love Shihoko’ at the heart's center!"
       "It won't last past first period," says Takuya. "The teachers will make us clear it when they come in."
       "It doesn't have to," I say. "I just need Shihoko to see it when she comes to school."
       "Buddy, not to rain on your parade, but you do know there's a chance this could be an epic fail, quite possibly making you the laughingstock of the entire school?" 
       "Like you said, I AM going after the Goddess herself.” I thump a fist to my heart. ”It's do or die."
       "I call it,” I say with all earnestness, “Project Snow White."

       Takuya looks at me for a moment and then bursts out laughing.
       “What?” I exclaim.
       He laughs so hard he has to sit down and hold his stomach. He starts to say something and then whoops some more. A minute passes before he pauses to catch his breath.
       "Oh man, oh man. That has got to be the wackiest, ballsiest plan I've heard all year." He stifles his chuckles. "I like it."
       "You'll help me?" I grin.
       He gives me a thumbs up. "A thousand and one apples it is. I'm all behind ya, bud."

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