Helga watched over the dance with eagle eyes, her classmates every move scrutinized by her watchful gaze. She saw it begin, the young red-headed girl with the braids moved from her seat, Helga held her breath. It was happening, she was approaching his table, the handsome blonde boy looked up to greet her.
Helga felt her heart pound, her breathing grew louder and fear shot through her. Lila had greeted Arnold at his table, now Helga watched on as Lila asked him a question. Her heart pounded so loudly she felt her body shake with each beat. Lila smiled down at him, giggling and offering her hand.
Outstretched toward him was Lila's hand, she had asked him to dance, Helga knew. Tears formed slowly in her eyes, in anticipation at his response. Arnold was infatuated with Lila's perfection; Helga knew he would never decline her offer to dance.
Arnold's hand met Lila's, he stood from the table, and moved her to a quiet corner. Helga felt it coming, the surge of jealousy and the nausea rising from her stomach – the unrelenting tears imminent in her eyes. No longer could she stand the pain, collecting her long pink dress, she quickly departed the venue.
Helga had shared many memories with the solid foundations of the tall maple tree, located just outside school boundaries. Groaning at her continued weakness, she leant back on the tree and let the tears fall from her eyes.
Relentlessly she had fought for freedom from this hollow obsession. Countless volumes of poetry she had shredded, an entire shrine she had burnt and a golden locket she had smashed. No matter what she knew she was losing - her pink bow still remained in her hair.
Warmth enclosed her shoulders at the strangest of moments, Helga lifted her tired eyes to see him stand beside her.
"Helga, why are you crying?" Arnold's soft voice asked with compassion as he too took refuge beneath the large maple tree.
"I don't remember." Helga whispered, unable to speak the truth.
"I was on my way to see you, and you had disappeared." He replied as he kicked away the loose leaves surrounding his legs.
"No Arnold, you were dancing with Lila." She said solemnly in return, wondering at what point her ever-honest love had become a liar.
"Helga" His voice was firm but caring, "You're not out here because you saw me take her hand, are you?"
"Not even close" She replied indignantly, as she cleared the tears from her eyes.
"If, hypothetically, you were then you would be here on false impressions. Lila asked me to dance with her, but I refused, it was time I talked to her seriously about my feelings." He began to explain.
Helga tensed her body, crossing her arms over her chest, as if to protect her breaking heart.
"Because I no longer have any for her, I'm in love with somebody else and I have been for a long time." Arnold finished, he set his eyes on her, almost with a hopeful stare.
"Why are you telling me this?" Helga's voice came as a raspy whisper, fighting the tears that longed to spill over her cheeks.
"Can you not tell?" He asked in reply.
"I don't think I have time to play your games tonight Arnold. If you'd like to tell me about her, then go ahead, but I may not stick around for the duration." Her words were fiery, almost bitter.
"I want to tell you everything about her" Arnold whispered in reply, "I don't know anyone as beautiful, anybody quite as smart, nobody as good with words and not a single person with so much passion in their heart. She's challenging and wonderful, she is perfect to me – but she doesn't realise how amazing she is."
Helga uncertainly nodded her head, unsure how much longer she could remain composed whilst Arnold recited another girls praises.
"She has beautiful blonde curls, deep blue eyes and she sits under maple trees in painfully icy weather." Arnold continued, as he stroked so softly his hand over the top of hers.
Helga's swollen red eyes looked upward from the cold leaves and dirt below her, and toward the face of the boy beside her.
"I love you Helga and I cannot believe I spent the last five years scared to say it to your face." Arnold quietly announced.
Helga felt herself lose control of her body, her emotions, her arms grew weak.
"Arnold, I don't deserve any of that." She whispered.
"I didn't come over here to ask you what you thought you deserved. You deserve everything you ever wanted!" Arnold lightly placed his hand upon her cheek, catching the small droplets that escaped from her eyes.
"You're all I ever wanted" Helga whispered in return.
Without a moment's hesitation Arnold rose to stand before her, offering his hand.
"May I dance with my girlfriend?" He asked, his calm tone edged by exhilaration.
Helga spoke no words in response, taking his hand she quickly found herself in his embrace. Slowly brushing their lips against each others; their moment had come. Rushed breaths for air and dull whimpers of pleasure filled the surrounding air.