by Doreen F."Emma, is this you?" she heard somebody behind her and turned around.
"Julian, hi, wow it must have been years…" Emma replied when she recognised one her former school mates.
"Yes, indeed, my graduation was about ten years ago and yours nine, right?"
"Could be about right."
"What are you doing here anyway?"
"I was going to buy a new pair of glasses and I’m overwhelmed by the variety of frames. And you?"
"I just wanted to buy myself some contact lens paraphernalia, but then I saw you and hey, it’s great to see you."
"Yeah, I didn’t know you wore contacts. Erh, listen… if you could help me choose frames, I’d buy you a coffee."
Julian gave Emma some great advice and eventually she settled for a pair of dark red plastic frames, which they both thought looked great. Julian bought his contact lens paraphernalia and they left and went to one of the cafés.
They chatted about old friends and school and time passed really quickly. Before long it was time for Emma to pick up her new glasses. She was wearing contact lenses, but decided to take them out and put on her new glasses. Emma wore her glasses quite often and alternated quite regularly between glasses and contacts.
"Wow, you look great" Julian said after they had left the optometrist.
"Thanks for your help in choosing them."
"You’re welcome, but could you do me a favour in return?"
"Like helping you pick out frames?"
"Not quite, erh… would you like to go to the movies with me tomorrow night?"
"I think I can do that" Emma replied smiling. "Would this be a date then?"
"Depends on whether you’d go on a date with me?"
"I’d love to."
They exchanged cell phone numbers and said goodbye.
Back home Julian was overjoyed. He had been fancying Emma back at school, but most of his friends had considered her boring and out of peer pressure he never talked much to her; but when he did, her cherished these moments and wished they would last forever. He could not believe his luck to have met her by chance at one of the places he dreaded most, the optometrist. This particular one was okay, but he had never forgiven his first eye doctor who had told his mother he really needed to wear his glasses at all times, when he was just a boy. Now he was stuck with ‘coke bottles’ however high index they might be. To him there were incredibly thick and minus 8, for his contacts, which meant even stronger lenses in his glasses, was really enough given the amount of astigmatism he had in both eyes, which made it even worse. Julian had never thought that there would be people with glasses stronger than his because he felt extremely blind and lost without his glasses or contact lenses. At school he had been teased quite a lot until he finally got contact lenses and the others seemed to forget about his glasses, which was a relief. But his newly gained reputation could not be spoiled by meeting Emma. He was really looking forward to see her.
Emma was talking to her room mate when she got home and told her that she had met one of her school mates. Since Emma had come to this particular school, when her parents moved there, she had never seen Julian in glasses and did not even know he had them until today. He had always been one of the nicer guys, but unfortunately he had never been able to do anything without the other boys’ approval. Now he was ten years older, but she was still fascinated by him. She felt really attracted to him. Her room mate was really interested and wanted to know all about it. Emma told her about the date and about their school days. She even took out an old year book and showed, Fiona, her room mate, a picture of Julian. "You’re right, he’s got something special. Has he changed much?"
"Not that much. I had no trouble recognizing him. If anything he seems to have more self-esteem than back then. I remember that one Valentine’s Day I got a rose and I really suspected it was from him. When I asked him, he blushed, but would not admit it. Some days later I got a letter in which he admitted it had been from him. It was really cute. But his buddies held him on a tight leash."
"Wow, that’s cute. I’m really curious what’s going to happen tomorrow."
"We’ll see. I don’t expect too much, I’ve learned that from experience."
The doorbell rang. "Oh, this must be Sam, I gotta go. See you tomorrow." Fiona excused herself and left to meet her boyfriend.
During the evening Julian thought about Emma quite a lot. He could not concentrate on anything, which rarely happened. An inner voice told him not to expect too much of their date, but somehow after all these years he was really longing to see Emma and did not want to lose touch again. After taking out his contact lenses he put on his glasses and really checked himself out in the mirror. He did not look too bad. His morning runs had kept him fit and his brown hair was nicely cut with blond streaks and he really could not complain about the way he looked. But somehow the glasses really altered his appearance. The new frames were okay; he had chosen dark green plastic frames, which managed to hide the thickness of the lenses and accentuated his green eyes, which seemed quite small behind the glasses. Julian could not help thinking that he looked sort of geeky and helpless. But that was only when he was really checking himself out. Most of the time he was at ease with his looks, but all the teasing throughout his childhood had left its marks. He went to bed quite early and spent over an hour reading before he fell asleep dreaming of Emma in her new red specs.
Emma’s thought returned to Julian more than once that evening as well. She had always regretted losing touch with him after his graduation. He had moved closer to the city next to their home town, which she eventually did some years later and which was the reason why they had actually met again. After various longer and shorter relationships Emma had given up finding her perfect match, but could Julian be it? He had given her the rose on Valentine’s. It had been the first time ever she got something for Valentine’s. She took out the letter Julian had written to her in which he admitted the rose had been his.
Yes, you were right the rose was from me. I wanted to tell you, but I could not, although you suspected it was me. It is really hard for me to talk to you in person because of various reasons. One day you will understand.
I hope you liked my Valentine’s present.
JulianTears were running down her cheeks. She put the letter back into the box where it lay next to the dried rose which he had given her. Emma was wondering why they had never done something together, but could not think of any reasons. Eventually she fell asleep dreaming of Julian.
In the morning Julian got up quite early, put in his contacts and went for a run. When he got back he took and shower and had breakfast before he headed to work; he worked at a law firm. He spent all his day looking forward to their date.
Emma got up at about the same time as Julian and after getting dressed and putting on her new glasses she put on her inline skates like she always did when the weather was fine and went to work. She worked at an art gallery and really loved her job and she was looking forward to seeing Julian in the evening.
Back home both of them got dressed for their date and were really looking forward to it.
They had decided to meet in front of the one cinema which showed movies in the original version. Julian was already there when Emma arrived. They greeted each other with pecks on the cheeks and went in to buy their tickets. The movie was a French comedy called "Ruby & Quentin." Their French was not so great, but with the help of the subtitles they managed to understand it quite well and laughed a lot.
After the movie Emma said, "Shall we have a drink somewhere?"
"Yeah, why not? I know a great cocktail bar."
"Great, let’s go there."
They went there and had really delicious cocktails. Time passed, but neither of them wanted to leave. "I would ask you to come over to my place, but my room mate will be there and her boyfriend as well, I guess."
"Don’t bother; we can go to my place, if you want to. It’s not very big, but really comfortable."
They left and went to Julian’s flat. Emma took a look around while Julian was fetching them something to drink.
"That’s a big bed you have here."
"Big enough for both of us, if you want to stay for the night."
"Is this what I think it is? Did you just invite me to stay overnight?"
"Yes, I hope you don’t mind. I don’t want to spoil this great evening by offending you."
"No, you are not spoiling anything. Oh, Julian, why have we never talked that much back at school?"
"Do you really want to know?"
"Yes, you promised to tell me in that letter back then."
"You remember the letter, oh boy! I’ll just take out my contacts, I’ll be right back and explain it to you, I promise."
After some minutes Julian returned and Emma saw him in glasses for the very first time. He looked quite different, but absolutely stunning from her point of view.
"Okay, so as you can see my specs are rather thick and I think you can imagine what this means for a young boy. I was being teased and called names. So when I eventually got contacts and the others accepted me, I was eager to do anything to belong to their group. They decided you were not up to their standards. I did fancy you, but I could not afford being seen with you if I wanted to keep my recently gained status. I was stupid, but what should I have done? Whenever I could, I tried to talk to you, but I couldn’t manage any straight sentence when you were around. So, what do you think, stupid, huh?"
"Well, first of all I really appreciate your honesty. I do regret, however, that you haven’t told me any of this before, but – let me finish – better to hear it now than never. Many things are clear to me now. But there’s something you ought to know."
"What is it?"
"I really like the way you look in your glasses." Emma said with a smile leaning over to Julian and they kissed.