I wake up from a dream that seemed totally real. But it’s obviously not because when I look around my room I don’t see thousands of paper aeroplanes with ‘I’m sorry. Love Zack” written on the side of each. No siree. There’s just my usual, boring old carpet looking back up at me. I feel strangely disappointed.

And then my cellphone beeps. It’s a message from Deevya.

Gld 2 c u looking so hppy last night xx

 And then she sends an mms with a pic she took of all of us sitting and smiling at the table in Wimpy. I have a grin from ear to ear! Quite a different look to my Sad Sack expression that had stared back at me from my mirror earlier yesterday. 

Her mms reminds me that I’m already feeling so much better. I think I’m ready to handle the masses at school today. And I’m sure I can also deal with Zack this afternoon. Well – almost sure.

We start the day with assembly. I keep a low profile. All the teachers leave the hall after main assembly, before the head girl does her announcements for the day.

I lean over towards Nomusa, who is sitting next to me.

“You and Lindi seem to be going well?” I half state, half ask.

Nomusa beams. “I like her so much. And she says she likes me so much too. She just doesn’t know how to tell her parents about us right now. So we’re not going to tell them. It’s not like we’re going steady or getting married yet. We’re just getting to know each other a little better, you know?”

Nomusa looks across at me a little anxiously as if she needs reassurance.

“That sounds totally reasonable,” I smile. “Take it from me – making any big, bold moves in the early stages of a relationship is over rated. I’m all for sloooow relationship development these days.”

She’s about to say something when the head girl starts speaking into the microphone up on the stage.

“Ok guys, so we’ve got an unexpected surprise today. Normally we only give out Valentine’s cards on Valentine’s Day, but this year it seems that there have been some late deliveries!”

There’s a buzz of excitement around the room. I sink lower into my chair – I think my Valentine’s experience has scarred me for life. I want to run for the hills when I even hear the word Valentine’s!

“And there have been a LOT of deliveries,” the head girl continues. “In fact there are bags and bags of them. And they’re all for ONE person! Hope L’Amour, will you please come up to get your Valentine’s cards!!!”

I look around me. They must be talking about another Hope L’Amour. I wait to see her get up. 

“Hope!” squeals Nomusa, “They’re for you! Go on up! She’s waiting for you.”

I get up slowly, still not quite believing this is happening. In fact I’m waiting for this to be some kind of hoax that turns out to be another embarrassing Valentine’s nightmare. 

But the head girl holds up a huge sack of post, looks me in the eye and nods encouragingly for me to come up.

There’s cheering and clapping and plenty of wolf whistling as I walk down the middle of the hall and then up onto the stage. By the time I get there the head girl has pulled the whole stash of cards out into the middle of the stage. THREE HUGE sacks filled with Valentine’s cards with my name on!

“Is there anything you want to say about this Hope,” asks the head girl, pushing the microphone into my face.

There are 1000 delighted faces looking back at me.

I grin. This is crazy fantastic! I’m not going to say it but I know that this has happened because of the publicity around what I wrote on that wall. I can’t quite believe this response though! I could never have imagined this.

“Ummm…maybe romance isn’t so under rated after all,” I say into the microphone, smiling at all the excited faces.  

A murmur of giggling sweeps the hall.

I try and pick up the three bags but I almost fall over from the weight, to happy laughter from the crowd. Deevya and Nomusa scoot up onto the stage to help carry. And as we walk back to our seats the whole assembly is in an uproar, clapping and stamping. Which just goes to show – everybody would always prefer to see somebody feeling loved rather than heartbroken. I’m glad I’ve lived to learn that lesson.