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Sitting in an empty classroom on Saturday afternoon, Lucas James stared at the clock watching the seconds tick away. In the middle of winter the principal kept the school cold in all the rooms, something about making the girls dress appropriately. Since it was Saturday the only people there were teachers correcting papers and the principal that was supposed to be watching him. All he was supposed to have was homework and books, but he was smart enough to sneak in his phone and some fruit snacks in case he got hungry. He already burned through his Beatles and Grease playlists twice each, and read his favorite novel The Once and Future King by the great T. H. White.
If you ask him not many people appreciate old English literature. Definitely nobody in his school, not even the literature teacher and librarian. Only person he could talk to about his interest was his uncle but he had passed away a few years back in Afghanistan He was a decorated Navy Seal, Lucas still wears his dog tags everyday and drives his old 86´ Ford truck.
Now I know what you’re thinking. How does a kid obsessed with English literature end up in a 8 hour detention? Well it’s simple; she happened. She as in Kyla Nelson. Yes, real original. Lucas gets in trouble trying to win over a girl. Actually she’s not just any girl, she’s
THE girl. The girl every guy in the school wants but could never have because she’s going with football star Jacob Jackson. Why would Lucas even try?
Kyla moved into the house next to his in the third grade and they’d been friends since. But then 8th grade hit and one's social status starts to matter. Kyla found hanging around with nerdy Lucas wasn’t going to help her any. Lucas didn’t think Kyla wanted to stop hanging out with him. They’d been the ying to each others yang since 3rd grade. He was always there for her. She didn’t want that to stop, but if she wanted to be anything in high school she’d have to make sacrifices, losing Lucas would be one of many. Lucas was heartbroken. He’d had a crush on her since they held hands on the way to school in 5th grade, but he knew that he wasn’t cool enough for her. So he just kept his head down around her and expressed his feelings through his writings. He wrote about everything; the sadness, the love, the pain, the feeling he gets when he looks at her.
Lucas can still recall the last time they had a real conversation. On the last day of 7th grade, walking home, Kyla explained why she couldn’t hang out with him anymore. She gave him the whole ‘Don’t worry. I’m still here for you if you need someone to talk to’ speech, but he wouldn’t be needing her anymore. She made her choice.
So what really happened? When you read and write as much as Lucas, you become good at knowing how people are feeling and how to help. Kyla had been aware of this since Lucas started reading and writing the way he does. So she used to talk to him about all of her problems because he didn’t mind. He didn’t mind what the conversation was if it was with her. Even though he was considered a nerd, Lucas always knew what to say or do in situations of life as they were growing up, which is surprising because he’d never experienced it himself. It pretty much became a daily occurrence. They walk home from school and she'd tell him all about what she needed help with.
Years went on and he’d see her sneaking out with Jacob to go off and do whatever cool teenagers do.He could see Kyla’s window from his, and he could see her come and go, but that night was different. She came home crying. When she got to her window she didn’t even go in. She just sat on the freshly mowed grass and cried.
Lucas’ parents were asleep since it was already 2 in the morning, but Lucas had been up writing a story for extra credit. A teacher told him a small scholarship was up for grabs. He was wide awake as he saw her out his window. He couldn’t stand seeing her sit there crying. Kyla’s the only person he’d ever liked. He climbed out of his window and she looked up. Tears filled her eyes; the drops smearing mascara down her cheeks. He didn’t say a word, he just grabbed her hand and pulled her up into the tightest hug he’d ever gave. She hugged back even tighter.
He realized that she was just in a pair of jeans and a long sleeve shirt and even though they were creating enough body heat she was still shaking. He pulled away and slipped his hoodie on her. Then nudged her to go into his room, she shook her head but he told her it was fine and his parents were asleep. When they got inside she sat on his bed while he sat on the chair at his desk. She’d stop crying and he’d given her a baby wipe to wipe her face as best as she could. She was miserable, but all Lucas could think was that she looked so cute sitting there on his bed not even knowing it. She’d finally began to talk and she told him all about how her and Jacob had been arguing a lot lately, and tonight he broke up with her. He was the only guy she’d admit she’s had feelings for. She told him about how she knew their relationship was a little bit one sided, but he always showed her he cared when she needed him. He really was a good boyfriend, but he didn't always do the right things.
Lucas offered her his bed and he’d sleep on the floor for the night so she’d have company, but she said her parents wake her up pretty early and she doesn’t want to risk it. After a long talk about everything and anything they noticed the time. Lucas also noticed that they had been talking like they used to, like they never missed a beat. He didn't want it to end. She hugged him tight, went out the window and into her own.
He stayed up wondering if he’d made the right moves and if he had made a good impression on her. He hadn’t told her that he was furious with how Jacob treated her. Although he’d never had the urge to fight before, for some reason all the anger he’d kept inside for so long came exploding out like a loose cannon. He knew what he had to do the next day at school. He’d never been in a fight, unless you count wrestling with brothers and cousins, which he always held his own in. It’s not like Lucas wasn’t a fit guy. After all, he goes to the gym with his dad and brother and looks decently cut. But compared to Jacob, that’s like David versus Goliath. But here’s his chance to show Kyla he still cares for her.
On Monday morning, Lucas hopped out of his truck at school. He placed his hand on the dog tags and pointed up to the sky and asked his uncle to help him out one more time. His uncle had always been his hero now he wanted to be a hero for Kyla. He saw Jacob in the hall before first hour when all teachers were in their rooms getting ready for the day. This gave him some time before teachers would come to break it up.
Right hook right to the nose. Just where he wanted it to land. Jacob was taken by surprise but the look in his eyes told Lucas it’s time to really fight. Trading shots back and forth while yelling at each other about Kyla. Kyla. All he could think of was her and if she was watching. She was, but standing behind her friends trying to hide herself from what was happening. By the time the boys were broken up they were both bleeding from their noses, Jacob’s left eye was almost sealed shut from swelling and Lucas’s mouth was bleeding and swelling up. He couldn’t see well through his blurry, tear filled eyes but from what he could make out of the crowd that surrounded them, he couldn’t find Kyla. Sadness and anger then overcame him. He had tried to be a hero for her, but she was gone.
Principal Kelly wasn’t happy with the incident because Lucas was one of his favorite students. The fight meant OSS for the rest of the week and Lucas had to serve a school day long of detention on Saturday. Jacob had his on Sunday.
Kyla dodged him when he tried to talk to her when she got home from school. Sometimes she would have her mom tell him that she wasn't home when she really was. This became standard practice, Her mom told him the same thing the next day, and the next day, and the day after that. Eventually he took the hint and stopped bothering her mom. Although, it was tearing him apart, he thought he had done the right thing by standing up for her. He couldn’t fathom why she just acts like he doesn't exist. He just wanted to apologize, tell her something so she knows he didn't mean to hurt her.
Graduation day and things haven’t changed. Kyla hasn’t spoke a word to him and all he's done is admire her beauty from a distance and hope things might change. After the ceremony Kyla walked past him. Impulsively, he grabbed her by the arm and hugged her like he did that night by her window. She hugged back, quickly kissed his cheek and said good bye.
A full ride academic scholarship sent Lucas off to UCLA. This was his dream college. All of the time he stayed up too late trying to get a better grades had paid off. Tears of joy came from the whole family when he got his acceptance letter along with the scholarship papers. He knew his uncle would be proud. He attended UCLA too, His uncle was a big factor in why Lucas wanted to go there. Lucas had thought about joining the Navy like his uncle did, but he knew his calling was writing.
With his sights set on a journalism major most of his classes involved writing and literature. By the end of the first semester Lucas had 4.3 GPA; his classes were all about things he liked. He got along well with all of his professors. The Basketball star that lived in the dorm next to his needed tutoring to stay on the team. When Lucas started tutoring Will, he was barely floating above a 1.8 GPA. Lucas didn't mind helping him because he had the extra time. He helped Will to get his GPA to a respectable 3.0. That would keep Will safe for the rest of the basketball season.
During another night of no sleep, Lucas stumbled out of his bed to get a Snapple from a vending machine down the hall. A big game had gone on tonight and Will still hadn't gotten back to his dorm room next door. Lucas figured he was probably out partying. As soon as Lucas stepped out to the long hall he could hear Will laughing and walking down the hall with his arm wrapped around the waist of just another girl he was getting with.
Lucas took a quick glance at the girl. Just from her body he swore he knew who she was. He saw her face as they got closer. Oh, that beautiful face. What was Kyla doing with the star ball player? She was supposed to be at culinary school. When he snapped from his thoughts they locked eyes. Her eyes instantly grew bigger when she realized it was Lucas. But just before either of them could say a word, Will pulled her into his room. Lucas continued down the hall.