Once upon a time, a Duke University student was walking from Perkins towards the parking lot near the stadium. His name was Charlie and he happened to be wearing a pink mask. He was also carrying a big brown bag filled with books.
At that same exact point in time, a girl was walking from the parking lot near the stadium towards Perkins. Her name was Rose, and she was wearing a mask as well, but this one happened to be the color blue.
The time was 10:55 a.m. Rose had an appointment to be at Perkins to pick up some books from 11:00 – 11:30 a.m., only because someone else had already taken the 10:30 – 11:00 a.m. slot. She had class at 11:15 that she needed to attend, which meant she needed to drive back to her apartment right after. She was really rushing, and her mask was making it hard to breathe.
“I need to hurry, or I will be late to pick up my books!”, Rose thought to herself as she was running at full velocity. “Wow, the campus is deserted. There is absolutely no one here.”
“Wow, this bag of books is heavy,” thought Charlie, “I’m so glad my roommate got evicted. Now I get the room all to myself and I can place my books on his bed.” Looking around, he recognized the emptiness of the campus. “I guess I can get all the campus to myself, too.” He took in a huge breath of air. “Ahhhhh…. Freedom!”
His momentary lapse of peace was soon interrupted when he noticed a girl running at top speed towards him. Shocked, he stopped in the middle of the sidewalk. “What the heck? You don’t see that every day, especially not in a pandemic.” His breathing kept fogging up his glasses (he’s wearing a mask, remember?), so he struggled to see who she was.
While she ran towards him, Rose thought to herself, “Who is this moron standing in the middle of the empty campus? I need to get to the library and this guy is in my way. Oh gosh I hope he doesn’t stop to talk to me. Not now. Creep. Please. Creep. Move creep, get out the way. Please don’t stop and talk to me. Not now. Not ever.”
Rose was bolting. As she approached him, she recognized that he used to be in one of her classes. He was the boy she had fallen in love with before the pandemic started. “Oh wow. Oh wait. I remember him from one of my bio classes. Yeah…his name was…Charlie. Yea. I can’t believe he’s seeing me like this. Gosh. How embarrassing. I hope he yells out to me and says something. Oh, but my books, I gotta get them and then make it to class. Whatever – boys are always doing the opposite of what they should be doing. They talk to you when we don’t want them to talk to us and they ignore us when we want them to talk to us.”
Charlie, meanwhile, was thinking, “I gotta find out why she’s running.” He stayed stone cold in the middle of the empty campus watching Rose run straight for him.
“Hey, is your refrigerator running?!” Charlie yelled.
Rose thought, “Are you kidding me, dude? That was the best you came up with?” She just ignored him.
“Hey! Rose, is that you!?”
She slowed down to a stop. She only did so because he recognized who she was, otherwise she would have continued given his embarrassing attempt at a pick-up line.
Rose panted from her excess running. “Hi…(pant)…Charlie?… (pant)… is that you? Yes. It’s me…(pant)…Rose.”
“Oh wow! How have you been?”
“Wow, he’s still just as dreamy as before. Even his voice has that gentle touch”, thought Rose. She blushed. She replied, “I’ve been pretty good, given everything that has happened. You?”
“Wow, even now she makes my heart sing”, thought Charlie. “I wonder if she ever knew how I felt about her.” He replied to her, “I’ve been pretty well. But there is one thing that has not been well with me.”
“What’s that?” Rose asked curiously.
“I have not been able to see you. It has killed me.”
“I’ve been thinking about you since they forced us out of campus back in March.”
“Yes! Rose! It’s true.”
“Charlie, I have felt the same way!”
Charlie could not believe his ears. All this time, he had thought it was only him, and that his feelings towards her were the only ones in the world. To hear about a reciprocation was alien to him – he had not thought it possible.
Looking straight into each other’s eyes, she winked at him. He winked back. She approached him, coming about three feet away from his body.
All of a sudden, Charlie gasped and jolted back. “Are you crazy?!” Charlie screamed.
Rose, startled, replied, “What the heck, Charlie! Way to kill the vibe.”
“Six feet!” he snapped.
“You have got to be kidding me…” she said aloud. “Charlie, I’ve fallen for you ever since I laid eyes on you last semester. You can’t be serious.”
“I’m being serious here… about my health.”
“Charlie, are you kidding me? I just wanted to give you a hug. You can’t do this to me. I’m not going to take this.”
Rose did the unthinkable. She went up to him, pulled down his pink mask, and kissed him on the lips.
What followed was an earth-shattering cry that echoed across the empty campus. The chapel’s carillon started tolling. He broke free from the clutches of her lips.
“No! No! No!” Charlie shrieked. He quickly reached for his hand sanitizer, not delaying one second. He opened it and put it all over his mouth and wiped it all over his lips.
“I can’t take any chances!”
His mouth was tingling. He was beginning to feel sick.
“Oh no. Rose. I think I swallowed too much hand sanitizer.” He was really struggling now.
Charlie collapsed on the sidewalk. Rose gasped and fell to her knees.
“No! What have I done?! Oh heart of mine! You who spurn our hearts so! How much you have robbed from me!”