“ARE YOU giving those flowers or are you having cold feet?” asked Tina right after she finished the last bite of her chicken sandwich.

“Dude, just look at Aubrey, look at her grace, she is beautiful,” John said. He was watching his beloved consume buffalo chicken wings without soiling her fingers.

“While I’m here, I am still wondering if she will even me.”

“First, instead of being a creep, go there like a big boy,” Tina teased her childhood friend. “You remember the plan right? Or do you need a brief run-through?”

John shook his head as he leaned his back to the chair, placed the flowers on the table and looked at the ceiling as he took deep breaths.

John and Tina had known each other since first grade, and he knew that Tina was more discerning when it came to women. Following her advice just seemed right. He consulted every strategy with his best friend. The only thing John contributed to the plan was the idea of doing it on Valentine’s Day.

“I really can’t help but wonder why you will pick the same day a martyr was executed just because he wed a Christian couple,” Tina said while offering him a tissue.

“Nice remark, dude, it really helped with the pressure,” John said as he took the tissue to wipe his cold sweat.

Tina took care of the other details of the plan, such as where John should buy flowers, where he should confess and even what haircut and perfume to wear. The plan was simple: he should confess to Aubrey during lunch at the famous chicken restaurant where Aubrey would be usually seen eating along with her friends.

As planned, John had to be well-armed with a bouquet of red roses and tulips surrounded by pink carnation from Dangwa flower market. He had an index card in the left pocket of his trousers in case words betrayed him. The air condition unit was not broken but John still sweat.

Meanwhile, Aubrey was just there eating by herself. It was as if the universe conspired to help John achieve his dream. Thanks to Tina.

But even then, John still could not stop to fidget on his chair, maybe because of the thought of rejection or because of this weird idea that made him question his feelings.

Out of nowhere John asked, “Do you believe in the idea of soulmates?”

Tina frowned as she focused her eyes to his romantic friend and flustered to what she just heard.

“I mean, dude, do you really think there is this person called ‘the one’ meant for each one of us?” John gave back the gaze of his friend.

Tina laughed as she applied rubbing alcohol on her hands. She just nodded then took a deep breath.

“Why does it bother you?” Tina asked John as she grabbed her tote bag.

“I don’t know, dude, just answer my question.”

“Well I believe in freedom. Such idea restricts freedom,” Tina said while she checked her bag as if looking for something.

John came closer to Tina. He felt the unusualness of that deep conversation with her.

“It is like a box of chocolates, not the Forrest Gump’s kind-of-box of chocolates. But you see, there are a lot of different chocolates in that box. Each piece has different taste, size and texture, but they are all meant for you. All you have to do is to pick one,” Tina said.

“But how will you know if you belong to someone’s box of chocolates?” John asked.

“Well, you will not know until you present yourself,” Tina said.

Her face brightened as if she found what she was looking for inside her bag.

“Dude what are you looking at?” John asked.

“Nothing, I thought I forgot my homework for our next class,” Tina said as she raised her face and closed her bag. “Look! Aubrey is about to finish her meal!”

“Now or never, wish me luck, dude,” John said as he took a deep breath as if it was his last.

“You can do this little boy! But don’t be late for major subject!” Tina said as she tapped John’s back.

“Good luck to me,” John said as he waved his hand. “Thanks Tina, I hope you find your lucky one soon!”

Tina showed a thumb-up. As John stood up, the slight breeze delivered Tina’s favorite jasmine scent. She watched her friend take each step closer to the one he had chosen. She observed how pompadour suited his face well and how he carried her favorite kinds of flowers.

Tina observed how John approached Aubrey, how he awkwardly offered the flowers and how Aubrey blushed as if she was just waiting for John. It seemed that the plan worked, and all was well.

“I guess a box of chocolate is not the best choice,” Tina whispered as she stood up to prepare for her next class—leaving a box of chocolates behind her.


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