1 Today's the Day

"Today's the day! Are you ready?" A familiar voice shouted excitedly by Wang Jingyuan's ear. As students poured out of classrooms and swarmed into the halls with the end of the school day, Wang Jingyuan looked at her best friend Du Jiahui and tried to smile. It appeared on her face as more of a grimace. Du Jiahui took one look at her best friend's face and gasped.

"No! Jing-Jing, you're not thinking of chickening out, are you?" Du Jiahui peered anxiously at Wang Jingyuan's troubled features. "We've planned this together for weeks. You've prepped for days. If you back out now, everything will go to waste!" She grabbed Wang Jingyuan's shoulders and tried to shake some sense into her best friend.

"Who said I was backing out?" Wang Jingyuan removed Du Jiahui's hands from her shoulders exasperatedly. "God, you're more excited for this than I am."

"Of course I'm excited. I'm tired of you always staring longingly after Shao Wenbo and telling me how he opened the door for you today, or how he smiled at you, or how he talked more than a sentence with you." Du Jiahui began ushering Wang Jingyuan along the hall as she talked. "You're finally making a move! You're taking your destiny into your own hands!"

"Yeah, because you made me," grumbled Wang Jingyuan. "You said you would never talk to me again unless I did something about my crush on Wenbo."

Du Jiahui rolled her eyes. "You'll thank me later. If I didn't give you a little push, you'll carry this crush with you to your grave."

The pair stopped by Wang Jingyuan's locker. Du Jiahui leaned against the metal lockers as she watched Wang Jingyuan twirl the combination on the lock and take out the books she needed for homework that night.

"Jing-Jing, I have a good feeling about this. The stars are aligned, the almanac says today is auspicious, and even the sun is out and shining. From all that I've observed with you and Wenbo's interaction, I think you'll get a positive answer." Du Jiahui leaned in conspiringly. "When you asked him to meet you at the café, he agreed immediately, didn't he? I'm telling you, he likes you too."

"Stop, you're getting my hopes up." Wang Jingyuan shut her locker firmly. The two girls began walking towards the exit of the school. "Wenbo probably just agreed because he's a nice guy. I bet tons of girls ask him out every day. He is the most handsome guy in school."

"All the more imperative for you to make your move before someone else catches him first," Du Jiahui stated firmly. She caught sight of someone walking towards them and waved excitedly. "Tianhong, over here!"

He Tianhong waved back and jogged the rest of the way to the girls. He nodded hi to Wang Jingyuan before intertwining his fingers with Du Jiahui, who smiled up at her boyfriend.

"I heard today was a big day," He Tianhong said casually. Wang Jingyuan felt herself blush and scowled at her best friend, who shrugged innocently. Du Jiahui told her boyfriend about this planned confession? Did He Tianhong tell anyone else? What if Shao Wenbo found out? That would ruin the surprise. For a brief, panicked moment, Wang Jingyuan imagined the burning embarrassment if the entire school knew she had a crush on Shao Wenbo and planned to confess to him.

"Don't worry, I didn't mention it to anyone else." As if able to read her mind, He Tianhong quickly added. "Jiahui was just so excited, she had to spill the beans to me."

Before Wang Jingyuan could reply, Du Jiahui elbowed her boyfriend. "Don't you have swim practice today? It's going to be bad if the captain of the swim team shows up late to practice."

He Tianhong checked his watch. "You're right. We better get going. Good luck, Jing-Jing."

"Be sure to tell me everything!" Du Jiahui waved as she walked off with her boyfriend in the direction of the school pool. "You got this! Be confident! Get the man!"

Wang Jingyuan made a face and walked in the opposite direction, following the cement pathway until she passed under the arched gates of Kaifeng High School, one of the best high schools in the province. From there, she turned left and walked down the sidewalk toward the quaint little café by the busy intersection a few blocks away that all the students loved to hang out and study at.

The silver bell on the door tinkled cheerfully as Wang Jingyuan entered the café. The comforting aroma of coffee beans and baked pastries enveloped her. Looking around, Wang Jingyuan was relieved to find that while the café contained a good handful of customers, there were no other students from the high school. Good. She didn't need her peers witnessing her possible rejection. The chattering was loud enough so that no one would overhear her conversation, and everyone seemed pretty engaged in their own conversations anyway.

"Hello! What can I get for you today, miss?" The barista greeted Wang Jingyuan.

"Um, nothing yet. I'm waiting for someone." Wang Jingyuan replied. The barista smiled understandingly and turned to grab some towels to wipe down the counter. Wang Jingyuan wandered over to an empty table by the large glass windows and sat down so she was looking in the direction of the school. She wanted to be able to see Shao Wenbo before he saw her so she could be mentally prepared for what came next.

Her heart thudded nervously in her chest. For a fleeting moment, she questioned if confessing today was the right thing to do. What had Du Jiahui said? That today was auspicious? The gray clouds hanging at the edge of the horizon didn't seem very auspicious. Outside, a gust of wind blew past and ruffled the leaves on the small trees planted along the sidewalk. Was it just her, or did the sky dim a little? Wang Jingyuan hoped that it wouldn't rain. Although she liked rainy weather, it didn't seem like a good omen for shooting her shot at her long-time crush.

Wang Jingyuan's phone buzzed with a text message from Jia Huidu. Did Shao Wenbo arrive yet? Have you confessed?

You're so impatient, Wang Jingyuan texted back. Shao Wenbo has a club meeting today until 3:30 pm.

It's already 3:30 pm, Du Jiahui's reply popped up immediately. If he doesn't show up, I'm going to tell Tianhong and his swim team to beat Shao Wenbo up!

No! Shao Wenbo wouldn't stand me up, Wang Jingyuan hurriedly texted back. It takes like 10 minutes to walk to the café. He's probably on his way.

Du Jiahui sent a GIF of a person rolling his eyes. Wang Jingyuan exited the messaging app and looked out the window. Her heart fluttered with both anticipation and anxiety. Shao Wenbo could walk down the sidewalk and enter the café any moment now. She will tell him how she feels today. No matter the end result, Wang Jingyuan will be brave and take the leap of faith. She had crushed on him for five years; it's about time she did something about it.

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