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Brush hair. Deodorant. Cologne. This was the routine that Blake followed religiously; in the locker room anyway. His long golden blonde waves draped over his eyebrows, always covering his eyes. “Shoes, jersey, shorts, check,” he thought as he headed from the realm of sweaty boys and sports talk to the sea of people flowing up and down the hall.
As Blake was strolling down the hall, he crashed into what felt like a brick wall.
“Oh, I’m sorry.” This voice sounded different. The shock slapped the smirk off his face and made him scramble to pick up her books off the floor. Carly was shocked that he would even put down his lacrosse stick to help a girl who wasn’t one of his groupies. While he was picking up her books, he was caught staring at her glistening blonde hair, the natural kind, and the way her raspberry chap stick brightened her soft lips.
“Sorry, here,” he murmured, transforming into his “cool” phase again. Carly replied with a simple “It’s fine,” actually impressed that he spoke two words to a regular person.
As he walked away, he turned back to see if she was gawking at him like every other girl (because, please, he’s Blake Brown). She vanished. Just a hundred other students dreading to go to their next class was all those chestnut eyes could spot.
The next day in geometry, just as he was slouching behind his unfinished homework, he saw Carly walk in. “Was she always in this class?” he thought. How could I have not noticed her when I sit in the back row?” His eyes were glued to her. Trying to deflect the stares, she rushed to find a seat. The only one open was in front of Blake.
“He--“ he coughed off the rest of his unfinished sentence into his hands. The confused smirk on her face wore off as she slowly rested against the chair. Long perfectly kept curls lay gracefully on his desk covering the top of his worksheet
“Okay, this is perfect,” he thought. “Start a conversation.” This was a new and awkward feeling for him, considering every other girl basically lined up to just say hello.
“Your curls, I mean um hair, is on my pa.. worksheet.” Not knowing if his statement was directed toward her, she turned around slowly anyway. Then when she saw his eyes burning a hole through his paper, now seeming not to care that her hair was on his work, she whispered “Oh, sorry!” As she flung her hair to one side, the smell of strawberries floated up Blake’s nose making his head pull up from number 9.
The bell reminded everyone that geometry was over and all the students crammed their books into their backpacks. “Carly! Wait up.” Blake shouted without any hesitation. The deep voice puzzled her as she turned around slowly. “Oh, hey….?”
“Blake.” He confirmed. “How on earth could she not know me?” he thought, trying to shake off the scrunched up look on his face was showing.
“I’m sorry, what’s up?”
“Well… um geometry, it’s… um what was the homework?” He rushed the last part just so she would stop staring at him.
“Oh, problems 1-42 on page 67.“ Even though he knew exactly what problems needed to be completed by the next class.
He stood up from leaning against the wall for a few seconds. Carly didn’t budge since he called her name. The hall had a lot of noise, but it was blocked out because all they could hear was the silence between them. You could cut the tension between them with a knife.
“Sorry I have to go… I have English.” Carly forced out.
“Oh yeah, cool. I have history.”
“Cool. See you… around?”
They both turned around and walked quickly in opposite directions to desperately turn any corner ahead.
“Why is he trying to talk to me all of a sudden?” Carly thought, taking long strides down the hallway, shoving people on both sides of her. She replayed the conversation in her head while shoving her face into her perfectly filed binder. She reached the end of the hallway by the health, room which was the complete opposite end of the school she needed to be at. Two minutes till the bell. The halls were clearing up which allowed her cut through the crowd more easily. Finally, she arrived to English out of breath with her geometry book and binder in her hand. The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn was still stacked neatly on top of her English binder in her locker. “Wow,” she thought. “What is up with me today?”
After school, Carly went through her checklist. Geometry, chemistry, English. She staggered her binders in her backpack, and then strolled to the bus stop. She wobbled to her seat, third row from the back on the left. The seat next to her always remained open. Some days certain people would have to sit next to her because the rest of the seats were taken. All of the other days, though, she put her backpack in the empty space next to her. She gazed out the window thinking of her day, almost shuddering at the thought of her conversation with Blake… twice. “I could have talked more. I could have kept the conversation going,” she thought angrily. As her eyes focused on the stop sign that was located on the corner of her street, she realized that she needed to get off the bus. She walked slowly down the sidewalk scuffing her heels against the white concrete. “Why was he talking to me, though?”
At home, for two hours, Carly stared at her homework, reading the same problem over and over again. Right as the tip of her pencil was about to meet the page, she brought it back down to the desk. Brushing the chair across the carpet with the back of her knees, she began to rise slowly, then sat back down. “Maybe you should talk to him tomorrow. Meet him by geometry! That’s it; ask if he did the homework, or if he had lacrosse practice.” She kept trying to think up methods in her head to gain the confidence to speak to Blake again. Pacing her room she began to ponder why he even would speak to her. She stopped in the middle of her room. As she anxiously glanced at the clock on her wall, she realized she wasted twelve minutes of her precious study time. She then immediately sat down to actually do her homework.
The sharp sound of her alarm clock zinged in her ears the next morning, jolting her awake within a second. Smashing the top of her alarm clock with her fist, she rolled out of bed while her eyelids refused to open all the way. She looked at her hair in the mirror and wanted to make it look extra perfect today just in case Blake decided to talk to her. As her brush was getting caught in her knotted hair she stopped and decided to braid it into a ponytail. She whipped it up noticing that she had ten minutes to be at the bus stop. She grabbed a red wool sweater from the top shelf of her closet that scraped her face as she yanked it on. She then slipped on some jeans and then dashed out the back door, sprinting to the bus stop. The bus arrived right as she tripped in a deep crack in the sidewalk, plummeting into the damp freshly cut grass. The students in the bus looking out the window starting laughing right when they saw her fall. “Great,” she thought. “I have a 2-foot long grass stain on the side of my jeans, and everyone thinks I’m a klutz.” Carly shook the dripping water off of her hands and didn’t make contact with her laughing classmates. She immediately ran into the bus and ran to the third from the last row on the left, the only place she felt comfort.
She entered the school trying to ignore what had happened earlier. She dangled her arm by her leg, hoping the width of her huge sweater would cover the enormous grass stain. She reached her locker to empty her backpack and get situated for the day. As she slammed her locker, Blake was standing behind it.
“So I heard about your fall this morning, nice stain.”
“I was almost late for the bus and there was a huge—“
“I’m just messing with you! So did you do the geometry homework?” He beat me to the punch, she thought.
“Yes I did. What about you?”
“Yeah, it was okay. Not too bad.” He noticed that her smile turned into a neutral expression as she looked from his face to the wall ahead. “Wow, did he just say chill? What am I doing talking to him?” She thought in disgust. Trying to recover, he threw out, “Do you want to study together sometime?” Her head jerked up at him. She knew he had the slightest bit of interest of school in him “You know those proofs can be hard…”
“Oh yeah, sure. Um, do you want to come over tonight and we can compare notes?” “Come over? Carly, what are you thinking?” she thought as she scratched her head and pretended to notice something behind her.
“Oh, sure. I have lacrosse until 6, so I will probably be there around 6:15.”
“Sounds great! See you then.”
Carly walked away, grasping her books a little tighter into her chest, while Blake started swinging his lanyard around the first two fingers on his right hand.
It was lunchtime. When Carly entered the cafeteria, she spotted Blake at his normal table: his two best friends and 10 girls. The door pushed Carly forward a foot, reminding her that she had been standing there staring. She moved up a little, and then continued to stare at the girls, running their fingers through his smooth hair while he laughed with them. Taking a sharp right into the lunch line, she took out her ponytail and began picking out pieces of grass. She grabbed a squishy turkey and cheese sandwich from the tray of assorted foods along with a bowl of fruit that was probably canned. On her way out she took a chilled milk from the refrigerator. She then walked casually from the line after she paid for her meal, and sat at a table closest to the cafeteria with her friends and her back facing Blake. She enjoyed a casual lunch with her friends, then went alone to the math room to study. Blake spotted her dash out of the cafeteria, and ran after her.
“Hey Carly, wait up!” The door had already closed after her. A few people gave him a few glances because it looked like he was talking to nobody. Picking up the pace in his step and staring straight at the door, he exited the cafeteria. He saw her walking down the hall alone and ran up to catch up with her.
“Oh! Hi Blake,” She responded while her shoulders jerked up.
“Where are you headed?”
“The math room.”
“Oh, I’ll come with you. Did you get number 24?”
“Okay I’ll meet you there in 2 minutes.” Carly took the next right and said nothing.
Blake was kind of confused as he headed off to his locker. Why wasn’t she as happy as she was this morning? He thought as he grabbed his math supplies. Walking down the stairs and taking the first left into the math room, he saw her in the same seat she sat in yesterday. As he entered, she looked up, then back down, not even greeting him. He opened his mouth to say something, but closed the door instead, ignoring the silence. He scooted a desk next to hers and pulled out his homework.
“So number 24 right?” she asked him.
“Yes, and then some on pg. 54.”
“Okay, let’s get to work.”
Carly noticed that he was getting it, but mainly just writing down what she was writing down. Carly noticed it, but tried to ignore it while she enjoyed the time they were spending together alone.
RING, RING! The bell shocked them, as they were finishing up the second problem.
“Well that was productive!”
“Yep. Thanks for your help.”
“It’s no problem, anytime.” Carly was hoping he would ask her to do it again sometime, but she just remembered that he was coming over tonight.
After school Carly was the first one at the bus stop, hoping it would come early. She new she had to finish all of her other homework besides geometry and make herself look presentable. The bus finally came and she was off to her house.
When Carly got home, she ran up to her room to do her homework. “Okay it’s 4:00, I’ll do homework until 5, get in the shower and straighten my hair.” Carly’s thoughts were all over the place. She tried to keep calm, but her excitement was shooting through the ceiling. As she was running over to her desk, she heard her phone ring. It was in her backpack vibrating. She didn’t recognize the number, but answered it anyway.
“Hello?” she answered with her heart racing.
“Oh, hello, Carly? It’s Blake.”
“Hi Blake! What’s up?”
“Well, it turns out I won’t be able to make it tonight. Sorry. I mean, we did a lot today right?....... Hello?” Blake thought it was a bad connection, but Carly couldn’t think of anything else to say.
“Oh, okay. Yeah I guess.”
“I’m sorry, maybe another time?” Carly knew there wouldn’t be another time.
“Sure.” Then Carly hung up.
As she placed her cell phone on her desk, she slumped in her chair and stared at the wall. “I knew it,” she thought. “No guy like him would ever like me. Why did I waste my time?” Since Carly hadn’t talk to Blake for a long time, she didn’t care about him ditching her. She never let anything get in the way of her schoolwork, even when she was a little kid. School always came first to Carly.
At lunch the next day, Carly entered the cafeteria seeing Blake at a table with his two best friend and ten girls. She grabbed her normal lunch, and ate it at the same table, the same spot. After she finished, she walked out to go to the math room. As she strolled to her locker to get her things, the hall remained silent.