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The Unexpected Lane
The hands on the clock moved with excruciating slowness. Groaning, I slumped down in my seat as the teacher droned on in the front of the classroom. We’d been forced to clear our desks, and all I had was my notebook and a pen. There was nothing to distract myself with. Sighing, I tried to focus my attention on the teacher.
“...this is why they were forced to retreat. Now if we analyze....” She was saying, pointing at the whiteboard and writing what she’d just said on it.
Nope. I was completely lost; I wasn’t even quite sure who she was talking about. As I was looking around the room, I saw Aiden messing around with a couple of his buddies. I’d almost forgotten-there was something that I could think about. Aiden, with his mess of dusty golden hair and his sapphire blue eyes. The way he made everything into a joke, how kind he was to everyone. Sigh. Such a typical teen thing, to have a crush on someone who doesn’t know you exist.
But-wait. Maybe he did know who I was. His friends were glancing over at me while they were talking to him. Was he talking about how much he liked me? Or that he thought I was cute? How amazing would it be if he had a crush on me? That would make me...the happiest person alive. I was so excited all of a sudden I could barely sit still. After a few minutes I noticed them passing a piece of paper around, passing notes instead of taking them. I guess the teacher had called them out.
That was it, that was how I would know! I had to get my hands on that note. Then I would have solid proof that he was my first love! It was something we could tell our children someday. I smirked a little; I was getting so far ahead of myself. Phase one, part one, was to read that note.
“Ameryn! Are you listening?!” My teacher snapped at me. I watched in mortification as everyone in the room turned to look at me, including Aiden. When he fixed his gaze on me with those blue, blue eyes, I felt like I was drowning. He was too cool for me. I could never go out with him, I would be hyperventilating all the time. I would never be able to talk to him, I’d be too busy drooling.
“Sorry!” I squeaked, my voice three octaves higher.
“Just. Pay. Attention.” She commanded through gritted teeth.
I nodded wordlessly, and waited with flaming cheeks until people stopped staring. When Aiden turned away, his friends nudged him and starting laughing. He shoved them back, and...and he was blushing! My heart skipped a beat and now I really couldn’t wait until class was over.
When the bell finally rang, I leapt up with my books and headed over to wear Aiden and his friends were sitting. As I was walking past, I saw the note on the floor. Eyes fixed on it, I dropped my books. “Oh, wow.” I said loudly, bending down to pick up my books. Glancing up, I saw Aiden staring at me, a small frown puckering his perfect brow. “I’m such a klutz.” I laughed self-deprecatingly.
“O-kay.” He said, drawing out, the word, then looked at his friends who were giggling and slapping each other’s chests. Only one of them wasn’t laughing, but staring steadily out the window. Aiden jerked his head towards the door, and they stood and left.
My stomach twisted. That wasn’t the response of someone who liked me, was it? As students streamed past me out the door, I extended my arm out and snatched the note. Unfolding it, I scanned it and suddenly felt sick. It read,
“Dude, she’s still staring. What a CREEPER. -G
DROP it, Greg. She’s just a Freshman. Who even cares? -A
Nobody I guess. She’s not even pretty. God, why is she still staring? -G
Somebody has a crush on our own Aiden...hey A are you gonna break up with Chelsea and Amanda for the fresh? I mean, at least they’re hot and Juniors like us. -B
With that girl’s chicken legs and flat chest? Not a chance. But she might be useful in carrying my books or something. I dun know. -A”
I couldn’t read any more, even though there was still more to read. My vision was blurred with tears. I’d been stupid. What hot Junior would date me, a Freshman who apparently had chicken legs and a flat chest? I didn’t have terrible self-esteem, but this made me want to crawl into a hole.
Somebody broke away from the crowd and came towards me. Looking up, I saw it was one of Aiden’s friends, the one who hadn’t been talking with them. He reached over to a desk and picked up a pencil sitting on there.
When he saw me looking at him, he lifted it to show me. “Forgot my pencil.” He mumbled.
“Whatever.” I blinked my eyes, trying to get rid of the tears, but one slipped down my face. I hated crying, especially in front of other people. Double especially by someone who had been making fun of me.
He saw the tear and hesitated. Then he bent down so he was on eye level with me, kneeling on the floor. “My name’s Lane.” The boy offered.
“Just go away.” I said, looking hard at the wall behind him.
“I’m sorry about what they did.” Lana said, after a moment of silence.
“You did it too.” I reminded him, still refusing to look into his eyes and see if he was lying or not.
“No! I didn’t. Look for my name, there’s no ‘L’ on there.” Lane suddenly sounded angry. “I thought they were being stupid. Stupid and cruel. They may be my friends but sometimes...” He shook his head before continuing, “They left that note there because they knew you would find it. They wanted to let you know what they thought, like a warning.”
I sniffed, not trusting him. There was one way to find out if he was telling the truth; I scanned the note to try and find an “L”. There wasn’t one. “Okay, so you’re not lying. But they still said those things. Maybe they’re true.”
“No,” Once again, Lane sounded angry, “They’re not true. Aiden, Greg and Beck...they’re not the kind of guys you want to get involved with. Especially not Aiden, he already has two girlfriends.”
“So they’re not and you are?” I said, finally looking at him. It was almost startling-Lane had brown hair that seemed almost auburn in the light, brown eyes and a sprinkling of freckles across his nose.
“I don’t think you have chicken legs, and I think your...chest is just fine.” Lane said, and ducked his head.
My heart began to beat again. “Really.” I murmured.
Lana grinned, and even his eyes smiled. “Yeah.”
I hadn’t noticed at first how warm his brown eyes were. “Oh.” Was all I could think to say. After just finding out my crush had been saying mean things about me, and was a cheater and terrible person, only wanting to use me...then finding out that a different cute guy I’d never noticed before thought I didn’t have chicken legs...I felt emotionally uncertain. But something was telling me he was different from Aiden. Where Aiden was an eclipse, blinding everyone to his flaws, Lane reminded me more of a star, sitting patiently in the sky, beautiful and burning bright without being pushy.
Or maybe I was on the rebound.
“I was wondering...do you maybe want to do something after school one of these days? Like Friday? And by something I mean a picnic? Or something?” He asked suddenly.
I narrowed my eyes. He seemed genuine enough, and I did want to say yes, but he was one of Aiden’s friends. “I don’t know...do you mean like a date?”
“I guess. No, yes. That’s exactly what I mean. A date.” Lana stammered, but smiled.
“Well you do have a way with words...” I felt a grin pulling on my mouth. “Sure, I’d love to go.”
“Cool. Can I, uh, have your number so I know how to reach you?”
I plucked his pencil from his hand, then realized I didn’t have any paper. A second later, I realized I did. Feeling my grin widen, I scribbled my number down and handed it to him, written on the back of the crinkled note Aiden and his friends had written.
Lane took it, and laughed. “Great, thanks.”
“Call me.” I said, laughing with him, “And I mean it.”
“Count on it.” Lane replied. Then, to my surprise, he gathered my spilled books into a pile and picked them up. “Here.”
I stood, and so did he. Carefully, I took my books from him. “Thank you.” I didn’t mean just for helping me with my books, and he seemed to understand that.
All he did was nod, but the nod meant a lot to me because it had so much subtext. After giving him one last smile, I walked out the door, him a few feet behind me.
I had whiplash from all that had happened in the past, oh, twenty-five minutes or so. I’d lost my crush on Aiden, my self-esteem had plummeted, but then this other boy came along and asked me on a date. And I’d accepted, because in the five minutes we’d spent talking, I’d seen something good in him, as ridiculous as that sounded.
Feeling confused, but happy, I strode to my next class.