The Exchange Student | Teen Ink

The Exchange Student

April 17, 2022
By Anonymous

Everyone who knows Eva from the outside will see her as "the perfect girl." For a seventeen year old, she's the type of woman that seemed perfect and privileged; she is poised, polite, smart, rich, and pretty. Going to a school where only the richest of the rich can afford, none of her friends make bad decisions. Eva goes to school everyday in her vrooming Porsche driven by her chauffeur while wearing her Chanel backpack strapped on her shoulders. 

Everywhere she goes in school, she drops people’s jaws and in her seventeen years of life, she never failed to do so. When she walks in the hallways with her wavy golden brown ponytail bouncing on her back, others move out of her way as though she was royalty walking past. All the teachers love Eva just from seeing her test grades and attendance. Whenever Eva is at school, she looked like a beam of sunshine. Her honey colored, almond shaped eyes always sparkled with joy just like her smile, and her light sweet tasting scent of perfume always walked with her. 

You may probably think that she's really happy with her life. Most of her classmates are jealous of her perfection since she seemed as if she had everything: the money, the looks, the grades, and the boys. Oh, the boys. That is something Eva never lacked. 

Everyday after school she would have guys waiting for her in front of the school front door either to ask her out or just to stare at her. Some even offer to send her home as though they don't already know that Eva has her own private car to send her back to her giant mansion in the middle of London. Eva never said "yes" to any of them because she knew better than to disobey her mother, and frankly, she did not have any interest in them. 

Eva’s mother does not want her daughter to date until she turns eighteen (which is happening in a few months). She is a Christian that goes to church every Sunday and believes in the benefits of abstinence. Eva is not allowed to go out with boys, let alone to a sleepover, and has to go to bed every night before midnight. 

This is the life that Eva has to live with. Her daily routine starts at 7 in the morning every single day even on weekends. She wakes up, takes a shower, brushes her teeth, eats breakfast made by her Nana, and then goes to school. After school she would come home, eat dinner, do her homework, and go to bed. With this busy routine every single sunrise and sunset, Eva doesn't have the time to stress out over small things like relationships, but it’s the one thing she wanted the most. 

Until one day at school, a new student came in. His name is Charles and he just moved to England from the United States of America as an exchange student. He planned to stay in England for a year before moving back home. The second Eva walked into school that morning, they locked eyes. Eva looked back and asked her best friend, "Hey James. Do you have any idea who that is?" 

James looked into her direction and quickly replied, "I do not but he seems to want to know who you are, Eva. He's super adorable as well." 

Eva looked back at her best friend, smiled, and said, "James, you've known me for over 10 years, you know I don't have time for these types of things."

James rolled his eyes and laughed out loud, "Yes Eva I know, in a couple of months though..." and then he gave her a wink. Eva smirked, playfully hit James' shoulder and they walked together to their first block class.

Eva's first block class that morning was Biology which has always been her most favorite class; however, she could not focus at all during the lesson and all she was thinking about was the guy she met this morning. She never felt the desire to talk and to get to know someone this strong before in her life but with this person, something in her changed. After that block, as Eva was walking to her next class, she bumped into a tall person's chest. 


This was really unexpected since normally, everyone will move out of her way when she walks in the hallways. To her surprise, she looked up and saw the new student. They locked eyes once again until he finally said, "Sorry. Hi, I'm Charles." This was the first time Eva felt speechless. She did not and could not find the words to say. She went silent for a long time while just staring at his gorgeous blue ocean colored eyes and brown honey colored hair. 

Charles spoke again with the sweetest voice Eva has ever heard, "Hey, what's your name?" 

Eva looked down at the ground and replied, "E-e-eva." 

Charles smiled and said, "Eva. That's such a pretty name." 

They both exchanged one last eye contact as Eva felt the blood in her body rushing up her face and ears. She felt like her face was going to burst. She knew that her face would probably be as red as a tomato right now and that she has to walk away fast. She didn't know what to do so she quickly spurted out, "Okay I gotta go," and walked as fast as she could in the opposite direction. 

While walking, Eva felt the guilt of walking away. She thought to herself why she didn't stop and talk to him more. Was I awkward? She probably was. All these thoughts were rushing into her mind in ways that never happened to her. What is happening, why is she feeling this way? Eva looked back and he was still standing there. His tall body was leaning against the locker and his face looked puzzled. Eva thought to herself that he is probably confused and thinks she's a weirdo. Ugh why did I do that to myself? Eva is normally extremely poised and confident in her speaking but why is it that when in front of Charles, she could not even say her own name properly. She cringed inside and quickly ran to her next class to tell James about what happened. 

After James heard the story from his best friend, he couldn't help but laugh with a sound louder than the school bell. James and Eva have been friends for more than half of their lives but Eva never had a crush on anyone before. This was the first time in Eva's life that she experienced what a crush feels like. After James calmed down and his laughter came to an end, he told Eva to ask Charles out to see how it goes. However, Eva knew that if she did, her strict mother would not approve of her actions. 

When Eva went home that day, she couldn't help but miss the man she met earlier today. She does want to know more about him but wasn't sure how and whether or not she should. Her brain knows exactly that she shouldn't; it knows that if she did, she would get in a lot of trouble. Still, the thought and the emotions of that moment they spent together earlier played in Eva's mind nonstop as if someone was clicking "replay" on a video clip. She never felt this way before and wanted to find a way to stop thinking about him. She knew she had to move on and stop thinking about him since it's not going to work anyway. There is no way that this is going to end well.

At school the next day, there was a lab assignment in Biology class. When Eva walked into the classroom, she saw that there were names of partners that were assigned into groups by the teacher. She scanned around the whiteboard and saw her name. Next to her name, Eva also found a familiar name: Charles. Eva quickly ran to the teacher and asked whether or not she could switch partners with someone or change her partner but the teacher denied and told her to stick with the current groups. Eva sighed and accepted her fate that she would have to spend the next two hours with a person that she has a crush on but is trying not to do so. 

This lab was way harder than any lab assignment she ever did in her life but she still tried to do her best, nothing can stop her from getting a good grade. Last class, the teacher taught them about planarians and how their nerve cells are able to regenerate even when it is cut into pieces. This means that even if a planarian is cut into two parts, both parts will be able to survive and grow into a new body. This class's lab assignment was to dissect a planarian and observe its changes. 

As Charles and Eva sat down next to each other, Charles looked at Eva and gave her a smile. Eva immediately looked back down on the table and tried to breathe to calm down. The class started and each group got their own planarian in a petri dish. 

Charles brought the petri dish closer to him to get a closer look of the planarian and said, "Hey Eva, look how cute this little guy is. Isn't he cute?" He grinned and looked up at Eva for an answer but Eva did not know what to say so she just nodded and smiled back awkwardly. She then realized that that was rude but was too afraid to apologize. 

Eva reached over the table and grabbed the scalpel but at the same time Charles tried to grab it too. Their hands touched on the scalpel and Eva felt her blood rushing up and down her body once again. She looked over at Charles (who was already staring at her) and lifted her hand away. They both laughed it off and Charles started dissecting the planarian. Eva watched as his hands gracefully held the scalpel and into the planarian. The cuts were so precise and clean as if he had done this before a million times.

The planarian separated into two bodies and both parts were alive and swimming around in the water in the petri dish. To her curiosity, Eva asked Charles why he seemed so familiar and professional with his dissecting. Charles responded that he used to do labs like these all the time back at his old school. Eva was surprised to know this information which made her realize how much she wanted to get to know this man even more. 

Charles laughed and asked Eva back jokingly, "Oh? Can you talk to me now?" Eva blushed and immediately felt bad for the times she ignored him and walked away from him. She smiled and apologized for doing so but he seemed like he didn't mind. This made Eva want to know him and get to know him a lot more, which she knows deep down that it is not a good idea. She thought to herself what she should do but for now, she should focus on getting the assignment done before she gets a zero.

James is throwing a house party this weekend and no matter how strict Eva's mother is, she always lets Eva go to James' parties. Eva's mother knows how much Eva loves her best friend and would never do anything to try to risk that friendship. Her mother also trusts her a lot and knows that Eva would not do anything that is out of her way or will disobey her mother. James' parties are always the talk of the town since James is so professional in this area of expertise.
The music, lights, food, and drinks are always perfect and everyone in school will try their hardest to get a spot in this party. The day after news got out that James will be throwing a party, like usual, everyone will try to get close to James and talk to him a lot in school. After the day the announcement or when the rumors go out that James is hosting a party, James will become the Eva of the school. Everyone will try to get a chance to speak to him and will ask to go to the party so that day, Eva would not really get a chance to see James because of his popularity. Eva's used to it though so she knows that she would probably have to spend time at the library during lunch since the lunch table she normally sits with James will be extremely full.
When the lunch bell rang, Eva gathered her backpack and books and walked her way to the library with her lunch. She opened the library doors and scanned around the room to find an untaken and quiet spot to eat her lunch in peace. She found a spot near the computers and she then quietly unpacked her lunch box to get ready to eat. The first Tupperware contains grapes and mangoes, her favorite fruits. The next is her main course for lunch: salmon and rice. She eats there quietly and peacefully alone until she hears the library door open.
From the back of her eyes she could see a tall person with brown hair walking in, and from that she knew exactly who it was: Charles. She tried not to look at him because she was afraid he would think of it the wrong way and thinks she wants him to come sit with her. Eva kept her eyes locked to her lunch and stiffly continued eating trying not to look suspicious.
Around 10 seconds passed and Eva thought to herself that Charles probably found a place to sit and she can lift her eyes off her plate now. She slowly looked up from her plate of food and to her surprise, he was standing there in front of her. She jumped a little from shock and knocked her grapes and mangoes everywhere.
Eva said quietly, "Oh no, my favorite fruits..." and frowned.
Charles squatted down next to her, started to help her clean up the mess and whispered, "I'm so sorry Eva I really did not mean to scare you. I was just wondering if I could sit next to you here."
"That's alright, it's not your fault."
Charles smiled and said, "Oh and did you say your favorite fruits were grapes and mangoes? Me too!"
To her curiosity, Eva asked, "There are grapes and mangoes in America also?"
Charles laughed and said, "No, but our family would always buy these fruits and import them from Asia since we all really like them."
Eva looked at him, grinned big, and said, "My family as well."
This was the first time Eva and Charles had a real actual conversation and not just an exchange of a few words. Eva finds this man extremely interesting which she never felt this way about anyone before. After they cleaned up the mess, Eva accepted Charles' question and they sat and ate lunch together in the library. Charles told her about his life in America and how he was raised. Charles was born in California and lived there since he was young. He has a younger sister named Celine whom he loves very much. He explained that as a child, he was kind of a trouble maker and that he would do naughty things that are sometimes illegal. That is why his parents sent him to England for a year: to fix his behavior.
Eva also told Charles about her life in England and her childhood. Eva was born on New Year's Eve, so her mother named her Eva. Eva grew up in a wealthy family of old money and lived her life by a restriction everyday. She isn't allowed to do many things that most teenagers consider normal such as sleepovers or trips. She has an older sister named Eliza who is currently studying in university in France.
Even though there were many differences between them, they both found a way to continue on with the conversation no matter what the topic was. The conversation never came to an end and there were no awkward pauses at all during the whole time of the conversation. The conversation continued as if they have met and known each other for many years. It felt right. When they talk, time passes by extremely fast and they lose track of time. The bell rang for the next block class so both Charles and Eva gathered up their bags and books quickly and ran hurriedly to their next block class.
That evening was the night of James' party and Eva and James got ready together at James' place. Like normal teenagers, they blasted loud music at full volume and got ready in the bathroom, destroying everything in it. Eva was standing in front of the mirror confidently with a hair curler in her hand admiring the makeup look James did on her. As she waited for the curler to heat up, she told James about what happened today during lunch. She told him all about the dropped fruit, the conversations, and the interesting things she found out about Charles today.
James looked back at her with a side eye and a smirk and said, "Okay. Girl. You are head over heels in love with him."
Eva shook her head no as denial and responded, "No way James. But even if I was, it won't work anyway. He's going back to America next year and you know how my mother is."
James laughed and kept on finding an outfit to wear for the party. Eva's hair curler beeped as a sign saying it is hot enough and Eva started curling her hair.
James asked her, "Hey do you think Charles is going to be here?"
Eva jumped and said in a surprised and scared tone, "What? Charles is coming here tonight?"
James looked at her blankly and said, "Calm down, I was just asking you if he's coming. Maybe he isn't you know? But well, who knows? My party is dope so he probably heard people talking about it in the hallways. Maybe he'll come." Eva stared at herself once again in the mirror but this time, not as confidently. She started to feel nervous and started to recheck her outfit, hair, and make up. Eva basically second guessed everything on her body right now.
She thought to herself, "Do I look good enough? Is my make up pretty? Is my hair okay? It has to be. Why am I so nervous? I shouldn't be nervous, I'm never nervous in these situations. Cmon Eva, pull yourself together."
Eva closed her eyes for three seconds and opened them up again. She told herself that she will be her normal, confident self today and that nothing and no one can stop her from doing it. She looked into the mirror and finished her half curled hair. After she was done with that, she went to the closet and put on the outfit she chose earlier: a little black Yves Saint Laurent dress. She knew she looked good in this dress and when she looked at herself in the mirror again, she finally felt the confidence she didn't feel before. James finished getting ready before Eva so he went downstairs to join the party first. Eva was still getting ready both mentally and physically. In front of the mirror, she put on her lipstick and fixed her dress. She gave herself a mental pep talk before walking downstairs.
When she walked down the stairs, every single inch in the living room was filled with people and dance music was blasting loudly until she couldn't hear anyone clearly. The noises anyone heard was just the sound of a room full of people talking. Eva walked over to the drinks table and poured herself a drink to calm her nerves. She is still in disbelief how nervous she is right now just because a boy might come to this party. She finished her first drink and immediately poured another one. It was a margarita that James mixed up which tasted really good.
She looked across the room and saw James over there talking to some of his friends. She smiled at him and gave him a wave. She went to sit on the sofa to socialize with some of her girl friends. We were talking about typical things girls talk about, as known as gossiping. As Eva was having fun talking, drinking, and just basically vibing, she heard somebody knock on the house door. Eva looked over and saw that James was still having fun with his friends so Eva stood up and was going to open the door herself.
Maybe she had too many glasses of margarita but she felt a little dizzy when she stood up from the couch. She could still walk though so she carefully walked over to the door and opened it. Her vision was a little blurring that moment but she could still see. When she opened the door, she saw the person she was nervous about coming: Charles. There he was standing in front of her, wearing ripped jeans and a white T-shirt. Charles smiled at Eva and at that moment, all of Eva's drunk symptoms were gone. Her vision cleared up, she didn't feel dizzy, and everything felt normal. The only thing that isn't fine is that nervous feeling Eva started to feel again in her stomach.
Charles spoke first, "Hi Eva, I heard there's a party tonight here, can I join?"
As the polite woman Eva is, she said, "Of course Charles, come on in. Let me grab you a drink." Eva grabbed Charles' coat and hung it on the rail and then tried her best to walk normally to the drinks table to grab a cup. Her hands shook a little when she held the pitcher of margarita, she did her best not to spill it but it did spill a little.
"Oh oops," said Eva. Charles quickly walked to grab a paper towel and cleaned up the mess.
Then he said, "Shhh no one has to know." He then smiled and they both laughed together. Eva handed over the cup to Charles and after he took a sip he was shocked about how good it tastes. Eva laughed and reassured Charles that James' drinks never taste bad, James is just professional that way.
After that Eva told Charles, "Well, have fun tonight. I'm going over there with my friends now."
Charles' face dropped and asked, "Actually, I'm not really close to anyone here and I don't really know how to socialize with these people. I'm sure they're all really nice but I'm not really the best at making friends. Is it okay if I spend some time with you tonight, Eva?" Eva was startled by that question. Of course she wants to spend time with him but what if it gets awkward? What if she messes up or says something stupid? Will he stop being her friend? Will he hate her? All these insecurities started to fill up her mind but of course she can't say no. It would be extremely rude to deny someone like this.
So all Eva could say was, "Sure, of course."
Eva immediately ran to the drinks table again to grab another drink of her own and drank it quickly to calm the nerves (again). Charles went to sit at the living room table and Eva sat next to him. Eva introduced Charles to some of her close friends and Charles was so polite and nice to them. Anna, another friend of Eva's, asked everyone if they would like to play Monopoly and everyone said yes. So for the next twenty minutes or so, Eva, Charles, Anna, and a few other friends played Monopoly and drank. It was really nice, chill, and fun which were the three things that Eva did not expect. She was having so much fun with her friends and Charles that she did not want the night to end. During Monopoly, Charles was winning for the first half of the game. However, after a while, Eva started to win more than Charles. Until the end of the game, Eva finally won.
Everyone laughed and Charles said, "Okay Eva, you're good at this. Hey let's go grab another one of those delicious margaritas shall we?" Eva couldn't deny a glass of James' famous margarita so she stood up and walked over to the drinks table with Charles. They smiled and exchanged eye contact when they poured the drinks.
Eva thought to herself, this is going better than expected and happily smiled. It is getting pretty late and the night is coming to an end. Eva had to go home soon but she really did not want to leave. This has been one of the best nights she ever had in her life. She got to spend the evening with the people she loved, her friends, and Charles. Even though she was nervous at first, this night could not be any better.
It was one of those nights where time passed fast and every second spent will be remembered (even though from the large amount of alcohol in Eva's body, she's not sure if she will be able to remember it). Before going back home, Eva went over to James to say bye and thank him for such an amazing night. James told Eva to go home safe and that he'll see her again on Monday at school.
Eva went over to Charles to tell him that she's going back home now and they hugged goodbye. Charles asked her how she's going home and Eva said she's going to walk back. James' and Eva's houses are not that far apart. It is around a ten minutes walk distance and they both live in a good neighborhood so even though it was late, Eva didn't feel afraid to walk alone. However, Charles was not happy about it so he offered to walk Eva home since she's not exactly sober and it is very late in the night.
Eva felt bad that Charles would have to walk with her in the cold night so she said, "That's alright Charles, I'm sure I'll be fine, don't worry." But Charles still insists on sending her home. Eva thought about it and didn't think that it would be a problem so they went to grab their coats and walked out the door together. The moment they walked out of the house, the frosty wind of the night immediately hit their faces so Eva quickly put on her coat. She shivered from the cold and used her hands to cover her face. Charles could see that Eva's coat was not thick enough for the chilly November wind so he took off his own coat, handed it over to Eva.
“Here, take this. You're shaking."
Eva shook her head no and with a shaky voice said, "No Charles, you're gonna be cold too. I can't take your coat, you're only wearing a T-shirt and it's like fifteen degrees out here. You'll get sick."
Charles smiled warmly and said, "Hey it's okay, I'll be fine. I have enough alcohol in my body to keep me warm anyway. Oh, and your nose is getting red from the snow, Eva. You're turning into Rudolph." They both laughed loudly as Charles put his coat on Eva's shoulders. During the walk, they didn't talk much but the situation was not awkward or weird at all. At that moment, it was just Eva, Charles, the lights from street lights, and the cooling wind. It felt right. Everything Eva is feeling right now is the feeling she wants to experience everyday for the rest of her life. It was a feeling of contentment, happiness, fulfillment, and all the good emotions wrapped up into one.
When they reached the front door of Eva's house, the first thing Charles said was, "Wow." He was mesmerized by the massive mansion he's seeing in front of him.
"This is where you live?" asked Charles.
Eva laughed and answered, "Yes this is where I grew up. I'm sorry but I don't think I can let you in. My mother would kill me if I did that."
Charles smiled and said, "Of course Eva I understand. I should get home soon also, it's getting late." Eva thanked him for sending her home and opened the house door.
“Oh I almost forgot," said Eva as she took off Charles' coat that he offered her, "This is yours."
Charles smiled and took his coat from her hands. He said bye and walked out of Eva's house. Eva stood there in front of her front door for a few seconds watching Charles walk away.
She then shouted, "Hey Charles." Charles looked back at her and Eva said, "Get home safe, okay?"
He smiled the biggest smile she'd ever seen and shouted back, "Of course, thank you. See you on Monday Eva." Eva felt her heart do a tiny little jump and she told herself it is probably just the alcohol. She smiled and walked into her house quietly so that she wouldn't wake anyone.
Eva walked straight to her bedroom and as she wiped the makeup off her face. She couldn't help but blush about tonight. She brushed her teeth and took a shower. After her shower, Eva sobered up a bit and she climbed to sit on her bed. She scrolled on her phone for a bit just like a normal teenager before bed. She then closed her eyes and reflected on all the good things that happened tonight. The drinks, the games, the conversations, the smiles, the happiness, and everything else made this night one of the best of her life.
But then after a few seconds she heard a knock on her bedroom door and her mother’s voice saying, "Hey Evie baby." Her mother, Victoria, opened the door, walked inside, and from her facial expression, Eva could tell her mother wasn't happy.
Eva asked, "Yes, Mommy? Are you alright?"
Her mother asked, "Did I just see a boy sending you home, Eva? Young lady, you know what I said about boyfriends. You are not eighteen yet. I don't allow it."
Eva said, "Yes Mommy, of course I know. That boy is Charles, he's my friend that just moved here from America. He isn't my boyfriend Mom, don't worry."
Victoria's expression of worries on her face still hasn't left and said, "Eva, I know you can make decisions on your own but do not disobey me. You are still young and are still living under my roof so you have to follow my rules. No boyfriends until you turn eighteen. Remember that."
Eva is starting to feel mad and annoyed. Maybe it's from the remaining margarita in her system that made her do this but this was the first time Eva ever snapped back to her mother. Eva asked, "Why Mommy? What's all the fuss about not having a boyfriend until I turn eighteen. I know that you are extremely religious and I respect that but I personally think I am mature enough to make decisions on my own, why do you think I can't?"
Victoria was shocked by Eva's questions. She did not expect her own daughter to question her this way. She felt the anger come across her but she promised herself to never ever aggressively scold her children so she walked out of Eva's room. Eva was left there with confusion and anger. She thought to herself how a beautiful night could be ruined by just a few minutes of conversation with her mother. She knows her mother wants the best for her but sometimes she feels as though her own mother wants to control her instead of raising her as an individual, independent, mature human being. Since it was late and Eva did not feel like staying up reminiscing about the special moments of the night anymore, she decided to go to bed.

Charles woke up the next day in his apartment with a smile on his face. What an amazing night last night. Charles lives alone in a flat in the middle of London so his place isn't that big. His parents sent him to England to become more independent so they did not send him any money, they only paid for his tuition. This is why Charles has to work on the weekends to be able to pay his rent and food. Charles currently works a part time job as a barista in a cafe in London.
He used to make coffee for his parents all the time back when he was in America so working as a barista isn't that bad for Charles. Of course it takes a lot of energy and time and he doesn't get that much money from the job, but there aren't any more job offers that he can apply for because he is just a high school student and mostly won't qualify for the job. On the other hand, Eva woke up the next day with a really bad hangover. Her head and body was aching so bad that she had to use twice the energy she normally uses to shower.
She was still mad at her mother for what they argued about last night but for now all she can think of was coffee. After Eva showered and got dressed, she quickly ran to the nearest coffee shop so that she would get home in time for breakfast with her Nana. And of course, she ends up at the coffee shop that Charles is working at. They were both shocked at each other's presence as Eva ordered a large hot cappuccino.
Eva asked, "What are you doing here Charles?" Charles asked his colleague to cover his shift and went to sit and sat down with Eva.
He then explained, "My parents won't send me money because they want me to be independent and to be able to rely on myself. That's why I have to find a way to get money to pay for my rent and other stuff."
Eva was surprised that she never knew this and said, "You know Charles, my father is currently looking for an intern to work at our family's company. We manufacture fabric and supply them for brand names like Versace, Dior, Chanel, and many others. If you think you have the business-mind to work here, I'll be happy to introduce you to my father if you'd like. The salary would also be higher than the one you get right now also."
Charles' face beamed of happiness and immediately told Eva, "That would be so amazing, thank you Eva. I actually took a few business classes at school and online courses about business back in America so I do have some basic knowledge. It would be such a pleasure to work with your father, if he's alright with it."
Eva smiled and said, "Of course. Anything for you, my friend. I'll talk to him."
Charles replied, "Thank you. I have to go back to my shift now, see you in a few days!"
Eva shouted to him while he walked back behind the counter, "See you! I'll have to rush home to go get breakfast with my Nana too," and she quickly ran out of the coffee house and got back home just in time.
During breakfast, the mood between Eva and her mom was bad, they haven't talked since their argument last night and no one was ready to apologize. However, they can't seem as though they are arguing because Nana would not be okay if she knows that there are problems going on. Nana does not like problems. So during breakfast, Eva and her mother, Victoria, avoided each other but was still fine with other people in the room. Eva talked to her dad, Liam, about Charles and how he should be an intern for the family's company.
Being the spoiled daughter she is, Eva's dad always says "yes" to his daughter and he told Eva to invite Charles over for an interview tomorrow. Eva thanked her father and gave him a smile. She then heads over to go talk to her Nana. Eva is Nana's favorite grandchild since she'd never done anything that gets her into trouble.
She is always the good child that gets good grades and goes by the rules. Unlike her sister Eliza, who is currently studying in university abroad, Eva is typically not rebellious and she's the "good one" of the family. Nana would always buy Eva gifts and souvenirs from her trips. This makes Eliza dislike Eva. They are sisters so they love each other, but there will be some moments where Eliza will be jealous of her little sister. However at the end of the day, they still love each other like sisters do.
On Monday at school, Eva ran to Charles to tell him the good news about the intern job at her family's company. Charles smiled from joy and thanked Eva for the opportunity. Eva told him that her dad wants to interview him today after school before accepting him but she's sure he'll do fine on the interview. Charles smiled. He was so happy and surprised that a girl he knew for a couple of days would go these lengths for him. His heart jumped when he looked at her this time. This was surprising to Charles because he never saw anyone this way before.
Of course Charles has had girlfriends and dated people before, but he was never the person who asks other people out first. Everyone he ever dated before always were the ones who made the first move. Charles has never had an interest in asking people out because he did not value these stuff as much. He is the type of person who does not really believe in true love or love at first sight. He never really cared about finding the "right one" or a soulmate because he frankly does not believe in them. This is why Charles was surprised by his own interest in Eva. He never felt the need to ask anyone out because no matter if he does or doesn't ask, there will always be people asking him out on dates anyway.
This is both confusing and exciting to Charles so out of nowhere Charles asked nervously, "Hey Eva. Do you want to maybe go out this weekend? Maybe like a date? I mean... you don't have to if you're not interested you know? I'll understand. But yeah... do you maybe want to?"
The hopefulness in his voice made Eva's face drop with guilt. She really wanted to say yes but she knew that her mother would not approve of it. She did not know what to do and what to say. If she says no, would that make her a mean person? If she tells him the truth that her mother doesn't want her to date before 18, will that make him think of her differently? Charles on the other hand, is standing waiting hopefully beside her. The nerves started to make his hands shake so he squeezed his own hands tightly to stop the shaking.
This is the first time he did this so it feels really weird not being dominant in the relationship. Eva has two options to do right now. First is to say yes and lie to her mother, and second is to tell the truth to Charles. Of course, as the smart girl Eva is, she chose the second option.
Eva replied shakily, "Oh I would love to, Charles, I really would. But my mother doesn't allow me to date anyone until I turn eighteen. I'm so sorry."
To Eva's surprise, Charles seemed fine to her (which he actually is not). Charles felt devastated and embarrassed. It was the first time he asked a girl out and he got turned down.
He felt stupid for even trying but still, he said to Eva with a lump of embarrassment in his throat, "Oh that's alright. Aren't you turning eighteen next month? We can be friends for now."
Eva smiled from relief and said, "Yeah I'm turning eighteen next month, aw you remembered. Thank you so much Charles for being so understanding. I really appreciate it."
Charles smiled and gave her a reassuring nod. "Of course, Eva" said Charles with a calm voice even though he is not really okay. After that they walked to class together to their first block classes. Charles was silent and Eva was guilty. They can still be friends though. Right?
Charles and Eva did not have their first block together that day but Eva does have the same class as James which is Creative Writing class. James was still tired from that party a few nights ago as shown by him holding his iced coffee to class. As he sat down on the table next to Eva, he let out a big yawn.
Eva asked him if he was alright and he sleepily said, "Yeah. I'm okay," and plopped his head down on the table.
Eva asked James, "Are you tired?" and James nodded so Eva left him alone to sleep. He slept in that position for about 15 seconds and then he suddenly got up and looked at Eva's face.
Eva was startled by the fast motion and asked, "What?"
James smiled a mischievous smile and in a mocking tone, he asked, "If I reckon properly, didn't I see you walked out my house and went home with Charles after the party? Spill the tea, sister. What happened after?"
Eva laughed from the tone of voice that James used. Her best friend is super funny. James started to get impatient. "Cmon Eva. Tell me about it. Did anything happen?" asked James.
So Eva went on and on about everything that happened from that night to the present. She told him about the shivering walk, the coat he let her borrow, the conversations, and the feeling she felt. As Eva was telling James all this, James was focused and was listening super carefully as if Eva was telling gossip about a hot celebrity. Eva then told him about the fight with her mother and how they stopped talking for a while just because of a small thing.
She also asked James for advice about the mother-daughter problem but James did not know what to say just yet. Eva also told him the job opportunity that her father has for Charles which really surprised James because James knows that Eva's father, Liam, does not come to play when it comes to business. Whoever gets to work with Eva's father has to be extremely intelligent both academically and also smart at life. Lastly, Eva told him about this morning and how Charles asked her out.
When James heard this, he screamed, "OH MY GOD" so loudly that everyone in the class, including the teacher, looked in the direction of Eva and James. Mr. Smith, the teacher, told James to quiet down a bit and James apologized and calmed himself down.
James then whispered to Eva, "What the heck girl, what did you say?" Eva then explained to her best friend about her answer and how bad she felt while saying it. She did defend herself by saying that Charles seemed fine after the conversation, he didn't seem that sad. James was still in shock but he gave his best friend some advice.
He said, "Boys, especially boys like Charles, do not like to feel vulnerable especially in front of the person we like. So, of course, Charles would act that way but I know that in reality, he feels really bad. I understand that your mother is extremely strict and Christian but still, you hurt his feelings. You should go apologize again, Eva. Just for the sake of friendship." Eva agreed and promised James that she will apologize to Charles the next time she sees him.
Class started and the teacher, Mr. Smith, stood up in front of the class.
Mr. Smith and his usual deep scary voice said, "Good morning, class. Today we will be creatively writing about something you guys probably felt at least once in life: happiness. There will be no prompt except the topic of happiness. Have fun writing, my dear."
Eva let out a big sigh inside and looked over to her best friend for help since "happiness" isn't a feeling she is currently feeling right now.
Eva asked, "James, what should I write about?" James shrugged and said, "Well, seeing how religious your mother is, maybe you should write about religion, you know? Write about how religion makes your mother happy. Oh, or maybe it's not the religion that makes her happy. Maybe it's all the money she has. Both of those topics are actually pretty good, Eva. Maybe you can try writing about how money and religion affects happiness?"
Eva's face beamed with a smile and said, "Wow you never let me down James. Thank you, bestie." They both smiled and Eva started writing.

After Eva wrote that essay, she reflected on it and her own mother. Even though she still does not understand why her mother has to be this strict to her, Eva respected her mother's wishes and beliefs. She knows that her mother works hard everyday for her well-being and if this will make her mother a little bit happier then she can definitely do this for her mother.
After reflecting on her behavior, Eva noticed that the reason that her mother is strict to her and doesn't allow her to do many things that can normal teenager can do is because her mother cares about her. Her mother wants Eva to do good things and receive good things, that's why she's so strict. Eva set a mental note in her brain that she will go apologize to her mother the moment she goes home today. Oh and she also has to apologize to Charles about the incident this morning. Such a weird day for our Eva but at least she's doing great!
After that class, Eva walked around the school to try to find Charles and when she saw him walking in the hallways, Charles looked sad. She didn't know what to do but she was determined to make things better.
Eva stopped him and said, "Hey."
Charles looked at her and asked, "What's up, Eva?"
"I just really wanted to apologize for what happened earlier. I'm not sure if I hurt your feelings but I really don't want to. I'm so sorry, Charles. I understand if you don't want to be friends anymore."
Charles smiled and said with a reassuring voice, "Hey hey Eva. Don't worry. I totally understand. I mean, yeah, I'm a little sad. But that's okay because I respect your feelings and what you want. Thank you for apologizing but you really don't need to. No matter what happens, we'll always be friends. Remember that."
That statement warmed Eva's heart more than anything ever could, even the sweetest bowl of hot chocolate could not warm her the way he does. Eva's rest of the day was mediocre, nothing much happened.
At the end of the school day when the bell rang, Charles walked up to Eva and said, "Hi Eva. I'm ready to go to the interview. I'm going to call a cab but I'm not sure where I have to go. Where should I go to meet your father?"
Eva said, "Oh don't worry about that my chauffeur is here. He'll drive us to my father's office." Charles said okay and they walked out to the front of the school waiting for Eva's chauffeur together. On the ride to Eva's father's office, Eva helped Charles prepare for the interview. She told Charles her father's list of pet peeves: loud chewers, loud walkers, loud talkers, and basically everything that is loud. Charles set a mental note on every single detail that Eva told him and started to feel a tiny bit more confident.
The drive was not long because the traffic that day was really good since there were no cars at all on the road so they arrived early. Eva briefed Charles one last time before Charles went into her father's office and started the interview. Eva wished him luck and waited for them to finish. While waiting, she went to go buy a cup of coffee and a croissant. She really hopes that Charles can get this job since it will be so good for him. Charles on the other hand, was so stressed. The moment he walked into the main room of the office, his first footstep was silent. Followed by the next. And the next. Until he reached the chair opposite of Eva's father.
He quietly sat on it and said, "Hello, I am Charles. You must be Eva's father, Liam. It is such an honor to meet you and I really appreciate this opportunity to be in this interview with you."
Liam laughed and said, "Hey why do you look so stressed. You're my daughter's friend and my daughter specifically asked me to help you out. My daughter doesn't ask for many things from me so of course I would hire you. Don't need to stress out too much about this young boy. I set up this interview just because I want to know more about you and who you really are. What are your intentions with my daughter?"
Charles said, "Pardon?"
Then Liam laughed again, "I'm just kidding. Chill out, boy. So, where are you from? Tell me a little bit about you."
Charles went on about where he grew up, where he was raised, and a little bit about his family. He told Liam the reason he moved to England and told him about how he is living his life right now.
Liam listened carefully and said, "You seem like a very nice boy. Do you have any special talents or anything you want to express?" Charles did not think about the answer he has for this question so he went silent for a while.
Liam waited for a minute until Liam said, "It's okay if you don't." Charles started to think harder and asked himself what he is proud of. The first thing he can think of is the story he wrote for fun back when he was bored in America.
Charles said, "I have writing talent, sir. I can write creatively." Liam said, "Great. Do you have anything for me to read?" Charles pulled out his phone and opened the story he wrote for Halloween last year.

After he finished reading, Liam said, "Wow that is a very deep and creepy story. What motivated you to write this?"
Charles said, "Not many people know this but I used to have a best friend. Her name is Lena and she suffers from depression and a few other mental illnesses. She was normally a very happy and bubbly girl when she's with other people but she was not like that when she's alone. She would self harm and attempt suicide. There was a time where I had to drive her to the hospital because she was overdosed on drugs and that almost killed her.
A few months before she took her own life, she acted really fine. I did not see any wounds or any signs that she is harming herself so I didn't really worry about her much. However, one day, I went over to meet her in the morning and her parents told me she took her own life. That sentence really affected me for a few days. I really thought if I was there for her more than I was at that moment, this would not happen. I felt down for weeks until I got tired of myself being sad so I had to find ways to cope with my grief. I started writing and this story helped me cope with the sadness. It's kind of like writing a journal and expressing my feelings."
After Charles explained this, he started to tear up. He tried his hardest not to cry. He told himself that he is in an interview and that he can't cry since it's extremely unprofessional. Even though he tried his best, he still couldn't fight the tears.
Liam saw the tears and said as he bent over to give Charles a box of tissue paper, "Oh honey. Shh. It's going to be alright." After Charles calmed down for a bit, he thanked Liam for the tissue paper.
Liam said, "You are a very sweet person and you are talented in creative writing. However, this job requires some knowledge about the economy and some skills regarding academic writing. Do you have any Economics classes at school? Also, do you have any academic writing, possibly a research paper, that you can show me?"
Charles said, "Yes, sir. I actually wrote a research paper about the effects of religion on the economy. Will that work?"
Liam said, "Yes of course. Let's see it." "Very nice, Charles," said Liam, "It was really nice knowing you. Let's start next week. Is that okay with you?"
Charles smiled and said, "Of course. Thank you so much, sir. It would be such a pleasure to work with you." They said their goodbyes and Charles walked out of the office. He saw Eva waiting in front of the office building and when Eva saw him, she immediately stood up and ran to him.
Eva asked, "How was it Charles?"
Charles smiled and said, "I start next week." Eva and Charles cheered and jumped around together.
Eva said, "Charles, we have to go celebrate! Where do you want to go to get dinner tonight? My treat."
Charles said, "Aww, that's so sweet. I'm actually craving some Korean food. Back in America, me and my friends would go to Korean barbeque restaurants for celebrations. Do you know any good restaurants?"
Eva grew up in a traditional English family so she never ever had any Korean food. She said, "I actually don't know any Korean restaurants. I have not ever tried any Korean food actually. I'll try searching for some restaurants on the internet."
Charles said, "Okay. It's very surprising that you have never tried Korean food. It's one of my favorites."
Eva laughed and said, "I have not tried many things. In my family, whenever we go to eat, we would normally go to traditional European restaurants. Believe it or not, I never ate a burger before."
"NO WAY," said Charles, "Okay we have to go get burgers next time."
Eva smiled and said, "That sounds good. Here in my phone it says that there's a good Korean barbecue restaurant near us. It's around a 10 minute walk. Let's go."

Charles and Eva walked to the restaurant together and had a really good time at dinner. During dinner, Eva asked Charles about the interview. She asked what her father asked and told Charles. Charles explained that Liam asked him about his life and his background. Charles also explained that Liam also asked for some writings that Charles wrote and Charles showed him his writings.
Eva asked Charles to show her his writings too because she never read anything Charles wrote. Charles decides to show her another one of his stories. This one is not the one that he showed Eva's father because he didn't feel like explaining about his former best friend again. He showed her another one of his stories that helped him cope with the sadness. After Eva read the story that Charles wrote, she was impressed. She never knew that one of her closest friends had this much talent.
Eva told Charles, "Wow Charles. This is incredible. How do you even get the ideas to write stories like this? I actually tried very hard with writing but I just never seem to get it done. I don't know, maybe it's just that my brain doesn't work that way? I think I'm more of the type of person who is good at scientific knowledge and social studies, not writing. Do you have any tips for me on this?"
Charles replied to Eva, "Well, just like every other thing, you need to start with motivation. If you do not have the motivation to write or to finish anything, you will not succeed. Normally, the times where I start writing are the times that I feel deep and strong emotions. For example, I wrote the story I showed you just now right after I went to the movies with my friends. It was a scary horror movie which motivated me to write this story. Another story that I wrote was right after I lost a friend I was really close with. She committed suicide which affected me really bad. So yeah, that's how I start writing."
Eva was shocked after she knew this information. She never knew that Charles went through so many things in life before. She immediately felt bad for him and really wanted to give him a hug.
Eva said, "Wow Charles. I never knew that this stuff happened to you. You are so brave, I am so proud of you."
Charles smiled and said, "Thanks Eva. It's been a while now so I'm feeling a lot better. Sometimes it does get bad but I always feel like I should move on and focus on the present. We shouldn't need to think about the past and get sad about it since it's not going to change anything anyway. Right?"
Eva said, "Yeah, that is true Charles. I never experienced anything like you but when I do feel any strong negative emotions, I would do physical activities like dancing, horse riding, skating, working out, ballet, or swimming. Sometimes I also would look to music to help cope with my emotions. I like to play the piano and sing when I'm sad. My family, they really enjoy music also.
Every time I go see my Nana, she would always ask me to play the piano for her. I was forced to learn and play the piano ever since I was a little girl and I remember I used to cry before piano classes every week. However, I really feel lucky and glad that I didn't stop with the piano lessons since I really think it could help with coping in life. I always do activities with my family and I really enjoy doing it. I really think that this is what makes me special and unique from other people. There are many activities that I have done that other people haven't even thought of doing. A few activities that I mean from that are archery, rock climbing, gymnastics and many others."
Charles said, "Wow that's really cool Eva. That means your portfolio for university would look very good, wouldn't it?"
Eva said, "Yeah, to be honest, that's the bad part because I do play and practice many activities, but I am not good or professional in any of them so I don't really know if I can really put it in my portfolio if you know what I'm saying."
Charles said, "No that's not true, Eva. You can always put in everything that you are proud of in your portfolio. It's your own thing, no one can tell you what not to put."
Eva smiled and reflected on how she never opened up to anyone like this before. She felt comfortable when she talked to him and realized how close a friend she considers him. Even though they just knew each other for a few months, she felt close to him and she trusts him just like they have known each other for years. She felt grateful that she had him in her life.
After the meal, Charles offered to walk Eva home. However, Eva thought back to the last time he did and remembered the fight she fought with her mother.
She didn't want to fight like that again so she told Charles, "That's alright Charles. I'm sober tonight and it's not really that late right now so I think I can walk back home on my own. Don't worry. It's only a few minutes walk to get home. Thank you though."
Charles said, "Okay Eva. Just don't forget to call or at least text me before you get home, okay? If you don't, I will be worried."
Both Eva's lips and heart smiled and she said, "Yes, okay Charles, I will. By the way, congratulations on your new job." Charles opened his arms out for a hug and Eva walked right into it. Her ears sat right next to his heart and she felt his heart beat on her head.
Charles held her tightly and whispered in her ear, "Thank you, Eva. I couldn't do it without you. Thank you so much. For everything."
Eva nodded and said, "Thank you Charles for always being here for me. I don't know if you feel the same way but even though we only knew each other for a few months, I feel very close to you like it's been years since we knew each other. Thank you for everything." They released each other from the hug and grinned. They said their goodbyes and both walked back home. When Eva got home, she immediately called Charles to let him know that she's home safe.
Eva said, "Hi Charles, I just called to let you know that I'm home."
Charles said, "Okay Eva, that's really good. Quickly shower and go to bed. See you at school tomorrow, okay?"
Eva said, "Yes Charles. See you tomorrow." That night, both Eva and Charles went to bed with a smile on their faces once again.

December 30

Eva's birthday is coming up in twenty four hours and James is throwing his best friend an iconic surprise birthday party at his place. Everything has to be perfect since Eva is turning 18 which means Eva can finally start living the life she deserves. No more rules, no more "no boyfriends", and no more controls. She is finally an adult which means she can make her own decisions now.
At school, James invited all of Eva's friends, including Charles, to the party. He told all of them to keep it a secret since he wants it to be a surprise. At school, thankfully James had only one class with Eva that day or else he wouldn't be able to keep the secret any longer. Right after school, James rushed back home to finish planning and decorating the party.
Before he left the school, he ran to Eva and quickly said, "Come to my place at six," and James ran as fast as he could back home before Eva could question him why. Charles was there with James to help him decorate and host the party. The time was half past five in the afternoon and James and Charles were finishing up decorating the room. There were banners, balloons, drinks, glitter, candles, cake, ice cream, many foods and snacks (including chicken wings, Eva's favorite) and basically everything else that Eva likes. What can they say? Both James and Charles know Eva really well and they both extremely want this party to be the best birthday party Eva could ever have imagined or hoped for.
Eva, on the other hand, was still confused after James' weird encounter after school. Eva went back home and got dressed. She changed into a comfortable outfit since she didn't expect anything especially a party at James' place because finals week just ended and she didn't think James or Charles or anyone would have the energy to throw her a party. Eva left the house wearing an outfit like how she dresses on a normal day: shorts and a sweatshirt. She didn't do her makeup and hair also because she really didn't expect anything to be hosted.
She kept texting James why he needed her there at his place at six but James did not respond to any of her texts. Eva thought, maybe James needs help with a final exam that requires extra work for extra credit? Or maybe James just wants to chill and cry about the exams? Eva had no idea what's going on but she walked and walked until she reached James' place.
Before Eva walked in, Charles saw her so he shouted loud enough for the whole house to hear, "Eva is here. Everyone, hide! James! Go get the cake ready." James yelled until his voice cracked, "Okay I got it. I'm on it." Charles went to quickly hide behind the couch before Eva could see him. Eva casually walked in and opened the door.
The room was pitch black and Eva said, "Hello?" before turning on the lights.
When the lights were on, everyone in the room got out of their hiding spots and shouted, "SURPRISE! HAPPY BIRTHDAY EVA."
After that, James walked in with the cake and Charles followed James with the presents. At first, Eva jumped because she got startled by the people and everything, but then she started smiling wide. She never felt this happy before in her life. She knows that everyone just finished their final exams and everyone is probably extremely tired and just wants to sleep. However, they spent their night tonight hosting, decorating, and throwing a party just for Eva. She never felt this lucky before in her life.
Everyone sang, "Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you. Happy birthday Dear Eva, happy birthday to you."
Before she blew the birthday candles on the birthday cake that James is holding in front of her, everyone told Eva to make a wish.
Eva closed her eyes, put her hands together in a praying motion and thought to herself, "I wish to have happiness, freedom, and smiles forever," and then she blew out the candles.
Everyone cheered and clapped their hands. After that, the party started. James knows his best friend well and knows that she will definitely show up in something not pretty enough for her own birthday party since she doesn't know that it is, so James already bought his best friend a dress beforehand. The dress he bought her is a gorgeous white sundress with ruffles on the ends. Eva immediately went to the bathroom and changed her outfit.
Thankfully Eva keeps some of her make up and hair products in James' bathroom since she didn't put on any makeup at all before she left her house. She quickly threw on some make up and did her hair. She knew everyone was waiting for her downstairs so she tried to finish up as fast as possible. It took her only 5 minutes to finally finish her hair and make up and Eva quickly ran downstairs. When she walked down the staircase, Charles was waiting at the end of the stairs holding a bouquet of flowers.
Charles said, "Hello birthday girl. Happy early eighteenth birthday."
Eva saw him standing there in a classic white button down shirt and black pants. Eva couldn't help but give him a heart warming smile and rushed downstairs to see him. She received the flowers (which is bigger than her own body) and gave Charles a hug.
Eva whispered in his ears, "Thank you so much Charles." They then walked to the drinks table together and grabbed one of James' famous margaritas. This gave Eva flashbacks to when they met and got closer at the party here in the beginning of the school year. They talked and talked just like best friends do. After a while, Eva walked over to James and gave him a hug.
Eva said to her best friend, "James. Thank you so much for all this. This means so much to me especially that it's after finals exams. I love you, bestie."
James hugged her back and said, "Aww of course Eva my love. Anything for you. I hope you like this party honey."
Eva said, "Yes James, of course I like it. Thank you so much." Eva, James, and Charles all went to have fun. They played board games, drank margaritas, and ate pizza. They stayed up like this until the clock struck midnight.
The time was eleven fifty nine in the night. Charles invited Eva for a walk in the backyard of James' house. Eva agreed and they grabbed their coats and went outside for a walk. The air was colder than the night they met at the first party. Eva and Charles stood closer to each other. So close that their hands were almost touching. They had their usual fun, deep, and nice conversations. When the clock struck midnight, Charles stopped walking. He turned around and looked into Eva's eyes.
Charles said to Eva, "Happy eighteenth birthday, Eva. I was wondering... Ahem... I was wondering if you want to be my girlfriend?"
Eva smiled, laughed, and said, "Oh I'm eighteen now aren't I? Yes of course I do, Charles." They both smiled and Charles put his hands on Eva's face. She looked into his eyes and he looked into her eyes. Charles pulled Eva's face closer to his. He bent down for his face to meet hers. The cold air makes both of their noses red. The warmth from their bodies (and the margaritas) warmed each other up.
He pulled his face closer to hers and she tiptoed for her face to meet his. A foot between them turned into a centimeter. Then that centimeter turned into a millimeter. Then that millimeter turned into nothing. Their lips touched which then turned into the softest kiss. They stayed that way for a few minutes until their bodies couldn't handle the cold anymore. Charles and Eva walked back into James' house with their hands in each other's hands. James saw and he immediately ran to them.
James asked, "Oh my god. Tell me whether it is what I am thinking."
Eva laughed and said, "Yes. He asked me to be his girlfriend and I said yes."
James screamed of happiness for his best friend and said, "I'm so happy for you guys. Congratulations!"
After that night, Charles walked Eva back home again but this time before Charles left, he said to her, "Happy birthday Eva. I love you."
Eva said back, "I love you, Charles."

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