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Short Story: Keychains from Maui

October 6, 2018

 

In May I embarked on a journey of self-discovery, just as Sally had taken off from Connecticut to a hot vacation spot in Hawaii. We had just graduated from four years of excruciating hours of college workload, so it was fitting that at least one of us took a break from reality. Sally had told me days before commencement that she had booked a long month in Maui, but I had completely forgotten that fact weeks after our caps and gowns were no longer relevant. I texted her then, and that’s when I found out she was already in paradise.

 

I wanted to take Sally out to eat, with a scary movie right after, to perhaps get to know each other a little more. We became close friends during our senior year thanks to a number of group projects where she and I always managed to be packed in. Yet, it was only outside of campus where Sally and I truly connected. So, my plan was to spend as much time with her as possible now that school was no longer a responsibility. But alas, it was going to take several months for Sally and I to coordinate any plans. Even more since I knew the Hawaii trip would leave her exhausted once she eventually returned to the mainland. That left me about three months before seeing her again; three months before her graduation party.

 

It was there and then that my journey began. I challenged myself to lose as much weight as possible, not only to lift up my spirits, but to impress my favorite girl, Sally. Indeed, I had started to see her as more than just a friend. And that was the plan: In three months I was going to put a smile on the lady of my storybooks, with the hopeful conclusion of transforming our beautiful friendship into something more.

 

I never asked Sally what type of guys she liked, but I believed it to be true that it could never be a guy like me. I didn’t look too bad for a 21-year old with a beard, but my waist was not the slimmest and my face had bigger features than mere facial hair. Big hoodies and long sleeve shirts tended to be the usual wardrobe, but I always picked skinny joggers when it came to the pants. Such a combination gave off a kind of physical illusion, making me look stocky thanks to my legs. Nevertheless, Sally was no fool, and if I ever wanted to impress her, I had to make some serious changes. Especially for a lady like her, who was now experiencing the wonders of Hawaii.

 

Sally was a short gal, five feet and one inches at most. Her hair gave a hint of blonde, but not fully. I’d always compared her to Reese Witherspoon, but I always knew that if Sally ever tried the Hollywood thing she would outshine all of the Hepburns. Simply put, Sally’s personality could cure a person’s bad day in an instant. She was smarter than me in every way possible, even though she’d always deny it. Straight A’s were the norm for her and nothing less. And, since she never failed to look like a Victoria Secret bikini model, she was the main attraction in any setting lucky enough to have her. Hawaii, Maui in particular, was extremely lucky to have her. I didn’t want to disturb her with occasional text messages, so, to stay in constant motivation throughout my journey, I imagined how a typical day in Sally’s well-deserved vacation would go.

 

There were three guys, all caucasian, waiting in the hotel lobby for a friend. Sally and her family were just about ready to go up to their room when one of the guys approached her. As it tended to happen back when school was in session, this guy was mesmerized by Sally’s contagious beauty and was dying to know her name. Sally, though, who’s already used to silly interactions, knew that what the guy really wanted was something else completely. However, she introduced herself and the two of them made plans to meet by one of Maui’s most beautiful beaches later that night. After speaking to her parents about the occasion, and asking for permission for such an occasion, Sally prepared herself for her first Hawaiian date.

 

She wore a splendid top and bottom combination that exemplified her tremendous physique, with a traditional Hawaiian flower on the left side of her hair to compliment her smile. Sally always wore lipstick, but tonight she had a new one which she picked out specifically for a night in Hawaii. Indeed, she was ready to rock the night like never before. When she arrived at the beach it was impossible for other men to stop looking at her. This guy she was about to meet didn’t know how fortunate he was. Or rather, how blessed he was. It took some time, but the guy finally arrived. He was a little late, but Sally didn’t care. She only wanted to have fun and she had all the time in the world.

 

Eventually the two of them got alcoholic drinks in their system and it was only a matter of time until the dancefloor called for them. Sally was a fabulous dancer, as for the guy, not so much. They danced for a short while until another guy stole Sally away. This new guy apparently had some serious dance skills, so the two of them instantly clicked. Sally was having the time of her life dancing like a maniac. Swerving from side to side, she was on fire. Nothing inappropriate transpired—at least in my head—but there were clear signs that some kind of love potion was spilled on the dancefloor and contaminating the air. This was Sally’s first night in Maui and never had she felt so alive.

 

The day after, Sally woke up with a wave of energy. She took a quick shower, dressed up and followed to meet her family down by the lobby. From there they went to the best restaurant the resort had in store, which legend had it served the best breakfast in the Pacific. When Sally entered the place it was as if a goddess had sparked out of the sky. Her hair and the wind became synonymous with Oscar-winning choreography and her smile was so captivating that the owner of the restaurant insisted on giving Sally a free meal. That’s how magnetic she was. When Sally finished her meal, she payed anyways and said thank you, never taking away her smile as she exited the restaurant. Hawaii was charmed with Sally’s presence, but it was soon time to return to the States.

 

By June, Sally was already back from paradise and I had already lost 20 pounds. The weight loss was barely noticeable on the body, but the weight scale was not a lier. Certainly, the numbers never lie. It still wasn’t the right time for Sally to see me, though. I wanted this weight loss to show, and until that happened there was no way that I was going to reveal myself to her. Time was running out. With only one month left until her graduation party, I needed to amplify my diet and exercise.

 

So, I did.

 

I lowered my caloric consumption from 1800 calories per day to 1300. It was tough, but that would allow for a greater caloric deficit, which in turn meant weight loss at a faster rate. Instead of working out once a day with a rest on Sundays, I switched the game plan by working out twice a day. I eliminated rest days, but added more time to my sleep cycle. In a matter of days I was already seen results and when July came with only a week left until Sally’s party, I was finally ready to show her the new me. Though it wasn’t a complete transformation, by July I managed to lose exactly 35 pounds, just 15 pounds away from my 50 pounds goal. Nevertheless, 35 pounds was still a grand accomplishment and better yet, it physically showed. The time had come; party time.

 

Black clothes were always my favorite attire, since they tend to cover up those unlikeable attributes about one’s body. Now that I felt like Elvis Presley in his prime, I opted instead for some white fashion choices. I didn’t completely discard my favorite color of clothes—a black t-shirt still managed to find itself over my torso—but I wore a slick, white jacket exclusively to make my new physique visually pop, all to impress Sally.

 

I arrived to the party 30 minutes late, as it’s customary in my Latino culture, and I also brought Sally a gift, even though she heavily insisted not to give her one. The gift was a suave and sweet Moscato wine, distilled in a massive glass bottle, but the real gift was, of course, me. My weight loss journey began with the simple objective of making her notice me, and hopefully consider me, as something more than just a friend.

 

Even though I promptly arrived 30 minutes after the party started, I waited in my car for a little longer, trying to catch my breath as it was all soon about to get very, very real. After a few short minutes I opened my car door, exited the vehicle, and slowly headed towards Sally’s house. This was my first time visiting her home, but, incredibly and to my benefit, to reach her house I first had to climb a long driveway connecting the house to the neighborhood’s main road. Essentially, Sally’s house stood on a hill, giving me all the time in the world to get there.

 

Once I got there, I immediately started looking out for Sally. I had already called her by phone prior to parking by her road, so she was expecting me to appear at any second. I took my time, of course, making sure to stay cool, but then, it happened, in an instant.

 

I saw Sally, magnificent and as I had imagined her all those months ago, wearing the best Hawaiian top and bottom combination a model could ever wear. Mesmerized I stood and the wine almost dropped to the floor, but Sally was there to hold it before it made a mess.

 

“You silly kid. You didn’t have to bring me anything. Thank you.” We hugged and right after, she said what I was waiting to hear all along.

 

“Wow, you look amazing.”

 

I had finally done it, I had impressed Ms. Number One with my incredible body. But the party was not over yet. After introducing me to several of her friends, Sally hit me with a scary question.

 

“You didn’t forget your bathing suit, right?”

 

Sally’s pool was huge, but I purposefully left my bathing suit at home to avoid such a scene. For some reason I still didn’t feel comfortable with myself without a shirt off, even though Sally had already corroborated my incredible weight loss. I just couldn’t get myself to expose that part of me, even though I really, really wanted to. Especially because soon after, Sally was the one who was donning a swimsuit. Stargazed, as if experiencing Jesus’ second coming, I awed at the sight of Sally, a supermodel, as she rocked that bikini in glamorous style. Even then, as Sally owned that swimming pool with her top-notch swimming skills, as if begging for me to jump in with her, I still instilled fear and and self-doubt within me. A high dose of insecurity awfully destroyed me.

 

The party continued and after moments of dancing, joyous conversations and an intense beer pong battle, it was getting dark. Alas, it was time to leave. I prepared myself, had a few more soda drinks and after saying goodbye to Sally from afar, who was once again in the pool, I started to make my walk back down to my car. When she saw me leaving, Sally jumped out of the pool like a tiger and stopped me right in my tracks.

 

After I explained to her that it was getting dark and my drive back home would take a little more than an hour, which was true, she sighed, but offered to walk me down to my car. That was incredibly sweet, but to my surprise, Sally didn’t even cover herself up to walk down with me to the middle of her neighborhood road. Truly, with a sexy bikini, bare feet and slightly soaked, the girl of my dreams walked with me to my vehicle. Like a true lady, Sally proved to me once again, right there, that she was one of the most special human beings I’ve ever met. Lucky was I that she was my friend. But now it was time to know if that was all between the two of us.

 

I never really knew all those semesters back in college if Sally ever got an inkling of my big crush on her, but now it was the time to let it all out, regardless of the outcome. I had already lost many pounds and sculpted my body, simply to find it within myself to tell her the truth. Yet, again, when she stood in front of me, with a sincere expression, knowing exactly that I needed to tell her something important, I stayed quiet and just hugged her once more. I had once again succumbed to my deepest of fears; my own insecurity. Without even a kiss, I said my last goodbyes, but just when I thought I had fucked it all up, Sally turned things around with an act that wholeheartedly transformed me.

 

“Before you go, I got you something from Maui. It’s a ukulele keychain, since I know you love music. Stick it to your car keys, that way you’ll never forget about me. Call me soon.”

 

What she didn’t know was that I never forgot about her, but impressively, she had also never forgotten about me. Even when paradise had welcomed her with open arms Sally kept me in her memory. Now I knew that there was a chance for something wonderful to bloom, and this time I was not going to end the fool. With over 30 pounds less and with spirits fully risen, the journey continued with a rejuvenated me, all to win the heart of a lady named Sally. And all I had to do was to finally give her a choice, by telling her the truth. 

 

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