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My name is Shay Jones. Before I start, I have only one thing to say to you- I am ordinary. Completely, indistinguishably ordinary. I’m five foot five, brown hair, brown eyes. The only thing unordinary about me was him.
His name was James- James Wallman. He was the complete opposite of ordinary. He was new. He was a musician. He could sing, he would dance. He would run down the hallways after everyone else was gone, just to do it. He was taller than ordinary- 6 foot. He was African American. He had wavy black hair that tended to stay short. And he had extraordinary eyes. They captured your soul.
“What class do you have next?”
“Who’s your teacher?”
“Come with me.”
And I did. He made me hide with him in the alcove next to the water fountain in the longest hallway in the school until the bell rang and the hallways cleared.
“Do what I do, Shay.”
I started to protest, but he was gone. He was a cross country runner, you know. He had slid off his shoes, and taken off down the hallway. Halfway down, he stopped running and slid. Then he turned and yelled.
After only a moment’s hesitation, I slipped off my shoes and ran down the hall after him. It was exhilarating. Near the end of the hall, he grabbed my hand and pulled me to a stop.
“Yep. Well, see you later.”
And he left. I got detention for skipping class, but he wasn’t caught. As I sat in the detention classroom after school, I heard a whisper from the door.
“James? Get out of here, your just going to get me in more trouble.”
I hated him right then and there. I hadn’t ever gotten in detention before, and he hadn’t even had the decency to get caught too.
As usual, there was no supervision for detention. They just expected us to behave like good little private school kids.
“Meet me in outside Coach Call’s room when you’re done here.”
And he was gone. I sat silently there fuming for another hour. I was NOT going to meet him. He had already gotten me in enough trouble, thank you very much. But my locker was past Coach Call’s room, and he grabbed my hand and dragged me away from I could resist.
“Where are we going?”
“Tell me James!”
Then he pulled open a door, and we were standing on the roof. Of the school! I gaped silently as I stared at the surrounding town, the same place I’d seen a million times. But up here, it was strangely different.
“We’ve spent the past 3 years trying to figure out how to get up here!”
“You’ve only lived here 6 months.”
“Sing with me! C’mon Shay, sing!”
He grabbed my hands and started singing. We spun in circles until we collapsed from dizziness and laughter. The sky, already dark, thundered ominously, and James looked at me.
“Want to go out tomorrow?”
“Yes. So yes or no?”
“Guess. Since you already know soooooo much.”
“Great, I’ll pick you up at 4. Approximately.”
And he did. He had his guitar. He took me downtown, and we sat on a street corner for two hours, him playing and both of us singing. He only played songs I knew. At 6, he bought me dinner at the deli two shops down, then walked me home in silence.
“See you at school, Shay.”
And he was gone. All of our dates, if you could call them that, were the same. We went somewhere in town, played and sang for a few hours, ate, then went home. We had been performing outside the psychics when he kissed me the first time. And it was matter-of-fact, like everything else he did.
“I’m moving again.”
“Yeah. This weekend.”
“I’m done here. I did what I could, and I’m ready to go.”
“Have a great life. Bye Shay.”
And with a final kiss on the cheek, he was gone.
Five years later, I was sitting at home. Single mom, with two little girls. I got a letter in the mail. It was addressed to ‘Shay Jones, Jefferson City, Missouri 65109’ with only the letters J.W. as the return address. I knew a lot of J.W.s, so I opened it without curiosity. Inside were only five words.
“I’m back. High school roof?”
It was in familiar spiky writing, matter-of-fact and to the point. My heartbeat sped up as I grabbed my coat, thanking God that my mom had the girls this morning.
I got up through the high school easily, and I only paused a second before opening the roof door. There I stood, staring.