“Not My Secret Crush”
By: Sarah Manning
Written: June 18, 2015
Instead, Nikko Day was pretty much the person I despised most in the world.
I felt the frown on my face as I watched Nikko descend down the bleachers during our final assembly of high school. Around me I cast a scornful look at the 360 or so cheering seniors who applauded my arch-enemy.
“This is so rigged,” I practically shouted over the applause of my peers to my best friend Emily. “Nikko Day is not anyone’s secret crush. Everybody knows that a lot of the female student body likes him. It’s not a secret.”
“Even some of the male student body,” my friend Connor snickered jokingly next to me. I glared at him. He raised his hands in surrender and continued to applaud as Nikko posed for a picture on the gym floor.
“This is so wrong,” I said crossing my arms.
“I don’t see why you're so upset,” Emily said not looking my way. Instead her blue eyes were glued dreamily on Nikko. “It may not be secret that everyone loves him, but he was still the best candidate… I mean look at him.”
Before responding I did look… and what the bleachers full of swooning teenage girls saw in their googly-eyed state I could not see. Sure, Nikko Day was attractive. He had dark brown hair, deep blue eyes, a body of a strong runner, and a smile that reminded me of a less cartoon-ish Flynn Rider from Disney’s “Tangled.” Yes, Nikko Day was handsome, but that was as far as his attractiveness went.
“No, this is wrong!” I argued, “I mean, listen, we’re graduating right? When we are eighteen we are legally old enough to vote. How are we supposed to responsibly vote for a presidential candidate when we can’t even properly vote for the senior superlatives candidate ‘Everyone’s Secret Crush’? How could everyone totally miss, you know, the entire ‘secret’ part?” I complained. “It’s ridiculous.”
“He’s like a Greek god,” a girl giggled to her friends in front of us.
“Oh pleeease,” I groaned.
“What do you have against him anyways? What’s he ever done to you?” Emily asked, clearly annoyed at my criticism. How did I end up with a best friend just as easily drawn in by the charade that was Nikko Day?
“Oh,” I laughed mockingly as Nikko began to bow inciting another round of cheers and an even bigger roll of my eyes, “I have my reasons.”
“Oh yeah?” Emily replied sassily, finally turning her eyes back on me. “Give me one good reason why you don’t like Nikko Day.” There was a challenge in her eyes.
“We don’t have that many days of school left for me to give you all the reasons I don’t like Nikko Day.” I countered with a shake of my head.
“I’m still waiting for one,” Emily said unrelenting. I frowned at her for a moment.
“Well, for one,” I began, “I don’t like him because everyone likes him. And everyone has no reason to like him, but they just do and it’s dumb” I explained.
Emily raised her eyebrows, “What an arrogant answer.”
“Arrogant? Me? You want arrogant? I present exhibit A!” I said throwing an arm out toward where Nikko was now shaking hands with the principal. Seriously, these were senior superlatives, not the freaking Oscars. Get off the stage already!
“Nikko is NOT arrogant,” Emily defended.
“Oh yeah? You say that because you don’t know the real Nikko Day.” I countered.
“And I suppose you do?” she queried.
“You bet your bottom dollar I do!” I knew Nikko Day better than 90% of this school. Why you ask? Because believe it or not Nikko Day is my neighbor. “Remember last semester after cross-country, before I had my driver’s license, when Chelsea occasionally drove me home?” Emily nodded. “Well, I never told you this because I knew you would be mooning and never stop asking questions… but one time when she was driving me home. She drove Nikko home, too.” I revealed. I watched my best friend’s eyes grow big with shock.
“What! You never told me that!” She was suddenly shaking me, “How could you not tell me you drove home with Nikko Day in the car!” Her voice was shrill, I shoved her hands off me.
“Shhh! This is why I didn’t tell you! I knew you’d freak out.” I looked around to make sure no one was listening in or looking at us strangely.
“What was it like?” Emily asked, her face suddenly glazing over.
“I’ll tell you what it was like. It was like riding in a car with an egotistical, self-absorbed baboon!” I whispered. Emily sighed losing interest. “Listen! We went out to the car and Nikko let me sit in the front --”
“See?” Emily said proudly, “a gentleman!”
“No,” I continued. “He sat in the back and said he called being DJ for the ride.” (Many of you will realize that this is truly the highest honor of car riding amongst teenagers.)
“So?” she asked, clearly growing bored.
“So? So,” I continued incredulous at her inability to see her hero’s true nature, “when I smartly asked why he should have the right to be DJ, do you know what his reply was?”
“What?” Emily asked.
“His response was, ‘Because I’m Nikko Day.’ As if that gave him all the reason in the world! And I was too shocked at the arrogance to even think of something to say!” (For those who know me, losing speech is not something easily achieved.) Emily laughed at my exasperation.
“Sarah, you’re ridiculous.” She said shaking her head.
“I’M ridiculous? His reason for getting what he wanted was HIS NAME, Em! That’s not right for a teenager from Amish country, Pennsylvania. That’s like me saying I have a right to play football because my last name is Manning!” I threw up my hands in frustration.
“But your last name IS Manning,” Emily replied.
“Yeah, but that doesn’t mean that the Chicago Bulls are going to sign me tomorrow!” I argued.
“Uh, Sarah? The Chicago Bulls are a basketball team.” Connor interrupted suddenly to my right.
“You, hush,” I said not turning to look his way, but I could feel his smirk at my back.
“Is that it?” Emily feigned a yawn.
“No! Of course not!” Nikko was finally making his way back up into the bleachers, giving the students on the ends of the rows high fives as he went. You’ve got to be kidding me, I rolled my eyes again. My next story came rushing out in one breath, “Then, there was that time in seventh grade. He and Kim liked each other and were talking about going out, but then he called her a 'man-eater' because she practically liked a new boy every day. Which was true, but then I had to pick between being friends with Kim or Nikko because at the time, believe it or not, I was actually friends with both of them… and of course I chose Kim because, whether it was true or not, it was mean thing for him to say.”
“Really, seventh grade? That’s all you’ve got? Thirteen-year-old emotions have forced you to hold this unyielding grudge over this poor boy,” now it was Emily’s turn to roll her eyes at me.
“Poor boy? Come on, Em! What about Halloween when I was home alone and he came trick-or-treating at my house?”
“What about it?”
“I was in my pajamas. You know, the ones with the roller-skating ducks on them? Anyways, I heard a knock at the door. Thinking it was costumed little children wanting some candy I answered… and who was standing there but Nikko Day, dressed as a vampire,” Emily knew well my loathing of all things vampires. (Yes, I am a die-hard Twilight hater.) I continued, “and he laughed at me! But I had to give him candy anyways because I’m not a big fat jerk who laughs at people in their pajamas!” The principal was now calling the senior superlatives for ‘Most Likely To Succeed’.
“Dude, how long ago was that? The third grade?” Emily muttered. The male and female names were called and I noted the students’ applause was much less vigorous now.
“Emily, what kind of parents leave a third grader home alone?” I asked seriously.
“Oh, right,” was her only response
“It was last year,” I provided. Emily began to giggle.
“Nikko, went trick-or-treating last year? That’s so cute!” Her eyes turned to our left as she searched him out among the crowd. I dropped my head into my hands.
“You are utterly useless!” I groaned. “Why do I even bother?”
“I think you just pretend to hate him because you’re actually head over heels in love with him.” Emily declared loudly. Far too loudly for my liking. My head shot up and I looked around.
“That is the dumbest thing you’ve ever said to me,” I retorted in a whisper thankful no one seemed to be paying attention as the principal droned on about the next category, “Class Comedian”. “The day I’m in love with Nikko Day is the day that I jump off the cliff that everybody else is jumping off of… you know, the one your parents always warn you about? Yeah, that cliff is symbolic for Nikko Day.” Emily snorted, and I couldn’t help, but laugh at my own reply.
Finally, the ceremony was over and the principal told us we could head back to our classes for the final ten minutes of the school day. Most of the seniors chose to stay in the gym and talk. I took a moment to reach into my backpack and find my most recent book. I was about two pages in when Emily kicked my leg with hers.
“Speaking of you-know-who!” came Emily’s voice, high and excited.
“What?” I frowned looking at her, then followed her gaze. You’ve got to be kidding me. There was Nikko Day approaching where we sat on the bleachers. I looked around for someone to pretend to be in conversation with, but had no luck. Darn you, Connor! There was no one around me except for Emily, who at that particular moment, was waving to Nikko like an idiot.
“Em! Don’t wave him over here!” I whispered harshly.
“Don’t worry, I’m sure he won’t even look at you!” She giggled, and suddenly Nikko Day, the boy who was not my crush, the boy who wasn’t even anyone’s secret crush, was standing before us… grinning like he had just won the SuperBowl. I rolled my eyes before turning back down to my book.
“Hi Nikko!” Emily said so cheerily I felt the need to puke.
“Hey Emily,” came his dark lilting voice. Just another reason all these teenage girls lose their wits about him. Utterly ridiculous. “Hi Sarah,” came his unexpected greeting. My heart stopped, he was talking to me? Since when did Nikko Day talk to me? My head jerked up and I blinked repeatedly from the unexpected sight of Nikko Day making eye-contact with me.
“Uh… I... uh... hi?” was all I managed to sputter out. Nikko was smiling down at me. I told you I will give him points for attractiveness, right? Obviously not my type, but some people’s type. His short dark hair was left to fall whatever way it decided. He had a light amount of stubble around his mouth and jaw. His disgustingly perfect teeth were white and even and seemed to glimmer when he smiled. His eyes, dark blue and mysterious, lit up with some strange, unknown emotion. He had his hands in his pockets and he was looking at me. I’m pretty sure that my heart had risen to my throat. Probably because of my revulsion, but it was making it impossible for me to speak. Meanwhile, beside me Emily continued grinning like the Cheshire cat. Before I had time to even look back down at my book and blow off, what some may consider, the smolder -- it was not going to work on me! No, sir! -- of course, my so called ‘best friend’ blurted out:
“Sarah, was just saying that you shouldn’t have won,” she smirked and I could have killed her. In fact, I think my eyes might have done just that, not that she noticed.
“Oh, yeah? And why is that?” Nikko laughed, eyes still on me. Lord God, make him go away, I prayed!
“I.... that’s not… it’s just that...” I was fumbling over my words and it was impossible because he was still standing there grinning.
“She says it’s because it’s not a secret that everyone has a crush on you!” Emily cut in. Once again, I think I might be eligible to go to jail if, you know, looks could literally kill.
“I see,” Nikko nodded lifting a hand to his chin as if pondering. “I suppose that’s fair,” he remarked suddenly looking back down at me. With his smirky grin I suddenly realized where he was going with this.
“It’s not my crush! I mean, I don’t… I didn’t… it’s not a secret -- I mean it’s not MY secret!” I was flailing, like I could literally see the boat I was in sinking into the ocean to be swallowed up by some giant squid. I was drowning and I had to do something quick or my life would be over. The enemy was taking me down, defeat was imminent… they would someday write books about my pathetic attempt to save myself that lead to a speeder destruction by one Nikko Day.
In a panicked rush I blurted loudly, “You are not my secret crush!” I sighed in relief for a moment, feeling a sliver of satisfaction at making my position known. It probably only lasted for about a millisecond though before a new terror came over me. I now noticed the gym had become completely quiet. I looked around to see that all eyes of my remaining classmates were on me. I must have belted that last confession out and across the room. This cannot be happening. Had I really just professed to almost the entire twelfth grade that Nikko Day was not my secret crush? Yeah, the look on Emily’s face told me I just had. I mean he wasn’t, but why did everyone need to know? Slowly, I returned my gaze to the man of the hour. Nikko, as usual, was smiling his infuriating smile. He laughed softly and I felt my cheeks growing hot.
Nikko nodded, “I get the picture.” He paused for a moment, “So, tell me Sarah, since you obviously didn’t vote for me as your secret crush… who did you vote for?” I’m pretty sure my heart stopped. Why did he want to know? Everyone in the room was still watching me. They were all assessing my declared conviction that Nikko Day was not the person I'd voted for. Therefore, either it was someone else… or I was lying.
Carefully, I returned my book to my backpack before gracefully standing and looking Nikko in the eyes.
“Obviously, no one in this school understands the meaning of the word ‘secret’,” I replied in a level voice. Nikko raised an eyebrow while maintaining eye contact with me. I started to step around him to make my way down the bleachers when I heard Connor’s voice, somewhere above me.
“And the Senior Superlative for the ‘Best at Keeping Secrets from the Entire School’, does NOT go to Sarah Manning!” A ripple of laughter made it’s way through the crowd just as the end-of-the-day bell rang.
In the midst of the laughter and the noise of shuffling students descending wooden bleachers, Nikko whispered in my ear, “It’s alright, I won’t tell.” He winked at me, then turned away and began walking down the toward the gym floor.
“Your mouth is open, Sarah.” Emily’s voice woke me from my shock and my mouth snapped shut.
“Of all the arrogant -- ” I began, but stopped suddenly at the feeling of Emily’s arm around my shoulder.
“It’s okay, Sarah. We’ve all been there.”
For the record, Nikko Day is NOT my secret crush.