I gazed conspicuously toward him from behind my algebra book. He seemed not to notice the pair of shy eyes on him. I took in every detail. His laughing smile as he joked with his friends, the texture of his hair as it hung over his face. He was just so perfect. The loud bustle of the lunchroom was deafened into silence in my ears. I saw only him among the crowd. He talked to me sometimes, probably out of pity, but I was shocked, when he'd reached out for a quick hug before class. I'd breathed deep, savoring every miniscule detail. Ever since then, I'd been tormented by his enchanting scent. D***, he smelled good! Now, as he laughed with his friends at some joke they were telling, I longed for him to look my way, but at the same time, I was terrified for him to. As if reading my mind, he glanced over in my direction. He smiled brightly, and my heart skipped a beat. Is he looking at me? He got up from where he was sitting, and began walking towards me. Was I dreaming? He approached me with open arms, and I smiled at him. I walked toward him, somewhat hesitantly, expecting the long embrace I'd often dreamed about. He came nearer, and just when I thought he was going to stop, he brushed past me, and hugged a tall, pretty blonde. My heart sank a little. Maybe they were just friends? I didn't think he had a girlfriend. I turned to the girl sitting at the table next to me. "hey, do you know who that girl is?" She shrugged and said, "yeah, thats michael's new girlfriend. Personally I think she's a b****." I looked back over at michael. The girl took his face in her hands, and kissed him. I was on the verge of tears. I turned, and walked off, leaving them. Leaving him. I don't know why I was so upset, I'd never had a chance with him anyway. I was the "new girl", a nerd freshman in highschool with no social status whatsoever. He was perfect, a junior who always had people following him. It was stupid to think that he could ever have any interest in me. Now that I thought about it, the hug wasnt even all that spectacular anyway. Just a one-armed sorta thing. He probably did at least that to all the girls at school. My little fantasy was crumbling down around me. But that's just what it was. A fantasy. The whole thing was a lie. A beautiful, perfect, 6'2" lie. And that was that. When the final bell rang, I quickly rushed to my locker to avoid talking to anyone. I was usually an easy target for jokes and taunts, and I didn't think I could handle any more right now. I didn't look anyone in the eye as I began walking home. Of course, this would be the day my mom would have to work late. That would mean home alone until at least 1:00am. Great. I was nearly halfway home when I heard footsteps behind me. I didn't thought much of it, seeing as how most of the kids at school walked home. I brushed off the thought and shoved my hands deep into the pockets of my old, worn out jacket. I had a new coat, but I wore this one because it was my favorite. The icy wind blew chills down my spine and neck. My shadow, protruding far out in front of me looked small as I hunched over in the cold. I didn't hear footsteps anymore. Whoever it was must have gone home by now. I stared at the ground, and soon realized I wasn't alone. Another shadow had accompanied mine. This one was taller, and looked broad and muscular. I knew it all too well. "A little cold for walking don't you think?" The voice caused my heart to freeze, as well as my feet. I stood there, still looking down. It was him. I mumbled something about not noticing the cold so much. Why did he care? I turned around. He'd taken off his coat. "Here, you're shivering." He wrapped it around me, and took my bookbag. I began to protest, but he interupted. "Look, it's freezing out here, and I'm walking this way anyways. Let me help you out." I honestly didn't know what to say. This was abnormal. I really didn't feel like arguing with him, so I just shrugged and started walking again. He walked silently alongside of me for a while. Finally, I got up the courage to say something. I took a breath and asked, "Is this some kind of joke? Did someone pay you to do this or something?" He just looked at me with those gorgeous brown eyes of his. They sparkled and danced. Almost looked like they were laughing at me. He seemed very amused. Ugh. He certainly knew how to push my buttons. I stopped and stared at him expectantly. "Well?" He sighed, obviously frustrated I wasn't playing along. "Well, I was going to ask you for a little bit of help..." I knew it. He was only being so nice to me all of the sudden because he wanted something. "What do you want Michael? Don't you have some other ugly freshman girl you could pick on? Or does it just have to be me?" He looked a little hurt. Good. At least he wasn't in as much pain as me. He could be thankful for that at least. But his words shocked me. "Jessica Wood, you are not ugly, what in the world gave you that idea? Don't take this the wrong way or anything, but I think you're a very good looking girl. Besides that, you're smart, and funny. And I don't know of anyone who could honestly argue with that." I was stunned. Had he really just said that? I mumbled inaudibly some sort of gratitude. He went on. "And the reason why I'm asking you instead of any of the other 200 girls at school, is because you're probably the smartest, and nicest out of all of them. Plus, most of them are s***s and h**s just out to get laid and stuff like that. You've always seemed like a very sweet and decent girl. I don't usually meet girls like that." I stood there dumbfounded by what I'd just heard. "You really....think..I'm...all that?" I stuttered. He smiled. "Of course." Huh. Didn't see this coming at all. Maybe it wouldn't be such a bad idea to help him...a little...maybe. I looked back down, and kicked at some pebbles on the ground. "So, uh...what exactly did you need my help with?" He smiled gratefully, and went on to explain how he was struggling in algebra, and that if he didn't get at least 85% on the 3rd quarter test, he would have to repeat in his senior year. "My dad will kill me if I have to repeat. He's already upset with me for quitting the football team, and he really hates me skating all the time. Sometimes I feel like he's ashamed of me, just because I don't like the things he wants me to. He origanaly wanted me to get a scholarship, play pro football, the whole deal. Just because thats what he did when he was younger." I listened, astonished. I'd never heard him open up like this before. He was always this funny, cheerful, fun-loving guy. No one(including me) ever expected there to be anything behind it all. I guess really anyone seems different once they feel they can trust you, and you trust them. He thrust his hands into the pockets of his faded black jeans I was so used to. I felt for him, I really did. The least I could do was help him with some math work. I looked up at him shyly. "Well...I guess I can help you...the test isn't for about another month, I could have you be ready by then." His face lit up as he smiled at me. "Oh my God, thank you so much Jess!" I laughed. "Well, we're almost to my house, and I don't have much homework this weekend, so I could help you a little today if you want." I'm not sure if i've ever seen anyone so enthusiastic about algebra. He nodded happily, and I laughed again. It felt good to laugh, I hadn't been this light hearted in a long time. We walked together the next two blocks, until we arrived at my house. I walked up the cold, concrete steps to the big white house I lived in. He bounced up behind me like an excited puppy. All this just about algebra? I reached into the potted plant beside the door, and pulled out my house key. As I pushed the door open, I called out, "Mom, I'm home!" No answer. Then I remembered that she was working late. Oh. What now? I had never been alone with a boy, ever. Especially in my house...and it was getting dark...The look on my face must have given me away, because Michael looked at me concernedly and asked me what was wrong. I knew I blushed, because I felt my face get very warm all of the sudden. "I, well, my mom, she's not, well you know, like she's not here..." His face softened. "I understand. I can come back later or tomorrow if you like."
Love, Life, and Algebra
December 23, 2009