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Brief Encounters of the Mundane Kind
I've always noticed you. Since that first day, when you walked into math class—late–and I turned my head to see who it was. And the breath was just knocked out of me.
I can list every class we've had together, although we've never sat next to each other. I've never said anything to you, and you've never said anything to me.
I've always noticed you, but I don't think you've ever noticed me.
Until… Walking from English to Physics, with Caroline, I see you in the hall.
You're too beautiful. I don't know what it is, but you're the most handsome boy I've ever seen. Not hot, exactly, because other people don't seem to find you that attractive. And not too popular, either, so I reckon I've got a chance.
Except that you've never noticed me.
Anyway, we're walking toward each other, and just passing when someone on your other side taps you and you turn, knocking into me. I'm not hurt—but it was enough of a collision that you notice, as I swivel like I don't know what's just happened.
You turn. You're right there, looking at me. You say, "Oh, sorry," and I say, "It's fine," (two words! I've said two words to you!) and then you turn back toward your friend. But your eyes. They were burning, blue and earnest and so full of soul. Have we ever made eye contact before?
It's like seeing you for the first time all over again.
I think sparks must have flown out of your eyes, blue like summer sky or a heavily-chlorinated swimming pool. They seemed so out of place on your tan face, intense and light. The most beautiful eyes I've ever seen.
After that, after that day, I see you everywhere. And I think sometimes you see me.
Walking from English to Physics with Caroline, I always cross your path, and try not to look at you. But I always do. You only look back at me once, and I almost stumble.
But the thing is, I think it looks like you're TRYING not to look at me. And that gives me hope.
At lunch, our table is only a couple away from yours. I always sit so my back's to you. I don't think I'd be able to tear my eyes away.
Then there's a rehearsal for our concert, and we're in the theater before school. I'm fiddling with the valves on my trumpet, waiting for the next song to start. There's only fifteen minutes left before class starts. We're on stage, but the seating area's still lit up, too.
Mr. Carter raises his baton but there's a crackle of static from the loudspeaker and he looks around. He talks over the announcement about prom next week, saying please leave, that he doesn't want any distractions, to the ten or so people who came early to school and are watching us. And with a thrill in my heart I see that you're there too, in the back, leaning against the doorframe. Everyone else stands up and leaves with a little grumbling… but you stay.
I'm just trying to decide whether it's a trick of the light or if you're really looking in my direction when Caroline, next to me, kicks my chair, because Mr. Carter's about to start and I'm still absentmindedly fiddling with my trumpet.
That night, it's so bad. I can think of nothing except you, you, you. I feel like such a GIRL, such a TEENAGER, pining after a crush I've only ever spoken two words to. And it's making me sick.
I have to do something.
So the next day, before school, when Savannah wants to know if we're asking anyone to prom, I know what I'm going to do. But I tell her no, no, I'm not asking anyone. They don't know about me and you. (Me and you, ha ha. As if we were a THING.) Turns out Savannah might ask someone, but I'm too preoccupied to ask who. Caroline and Johnny aren't, though, and I tune out their interrogation. I'm watching the small group of your friends over there, on my left, to see if you show up. You don't.
At lunch, I sit facing your table. You're there (you were late to Spanish this morning) and I have a hard time keeping my mind on our conversation, and Johnny asks me—twice—if I'm okay. I say yes.
But I'm not. My mind is reeling. I'm not brave enough for this…
But it doesn't matter, because I've missed my opportunity. You're standing up, throwing away your trash, moving off with your friends. Going, going, gone.
I'm doing flashcards with Caroline in the library after school, and you're there too, walking in the door. You wind between tables and I watch you as surreptitiously as I can, and wonder if this time I can do it. I watch you until I have to stop because you're getting closer. And closer.
And it's finally happening because you stop at our table. It didn't matter I'm not brave enough, because you are, and after all that it's finally happening. And I look up and oh God you're right here and you're so gorgeous, even better up close, adorably flushed and nervous-looking and I hope desperately that you can't hear my heart, because it's beating, BOOM BOOM BOOM, loud as all get-out. And then it stops—because this is what happens:
You stop. Take a deep breath. Turn, and ask Caroline—CAROLINE—, "Will you go to the prom with me?"