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“Good morning.” The bus driver’s sickeningly sweet voice disgusts me as I step onto the school bus on Monday morning. I just fake a sweet smile and proceed to my normal seat at the very back of the bus. I sit in my usual position with my feet in the seat and my knees close to my chest. I plunge my sleek, black headphones into my ears and listen as the sound of Marilyn Manson drowns out the loud chatter and the movement of the bus. My normal dark makeup is painted proudly on my ivory-toned face and my freshly cut black hair hangs down, covering half of my face. I stare out the window as the bus drives past several houses then makes its next stop.
I step off the bus at the dreaded place, school. I take out one headphone and turn the music down slightly as I pull my black messenger bag up onto my shoulder. I take my ID tag on its long Black Veil Brides lanyard out of the front pocket and put it around my neck, rolling my eyes at the absurdity of having to wear the stupid thing every single day. I’m a senior for God’s sake! Why do I still need to wear identification everywhere I go?
I walk into the building and step through the cafeteria doors. I go through the line and grab a bottle of apple juice. I’m not much of a breakfast person. I walk through the noisy rooms, ignoring the usual stares and gawks from all the others. I find my friend, Lyric, whose real name was Sophie but she changed her name in the ninth grade and I did the same. My parents originally named me Lyndsey but I changed my name to Shy. I go and sit down next to her and put my iPod back into its compartment in my bag.
“Hey Shy.” Lyric greets me.
I return her hello and sip my apple juice slowly. I pull out a book and start to read it while Lyric chomps on a celery stick dipped in peanut butter. I look up and see Erik Campbell coming into the cafeteria. He’s the quarterback of the football team and the most popular, most unattainable guy in school; but apparently not too unattainable for Trina Hartford. I scoff and roll my eyes as I watch her run up to him and kiss him on the lips, greeting him in her usual Trina fashion. I turn back to Lyric. “I don't get it.” I say, “The senior football quarterback dating the head cheerleader. I mean, how cliché is that?”
Lyric nods and swallows before speaking. “It's genetics.” She tells me, “They're DNA is programmed so they'd find each other.” She just shrugs and eats the last piece of celery then takes a long drink of her citrus flavored green tea.
I half smile at Lyric and shake my head. “What would I do without you girl?”
She pretends to think for a minute. “Shrivel up and die?” she replies.
I laugh out loud. “You got that right.”
The bell rings for homeroom so we pick up our stuff and head to class. Once inside, Mr. Hernandez greets everyone and we find our seats. The bell rings and yet again instead of discussing things we're normally supposed to discuss in homeroom, Mr. Hernandez tells us all about the latest facade he had with his “crazy wife”.
Finally, the bell rings to release us from Mr. Hernandez's spiel about his oh so miserable marriage. Lyric and I say goodbye to each other and go our separate ways. I go to second period and the rest of my classes until I get to the last class of the day, US History with Mrs. Jordan. Erik’s in that class and I had never really paid much attention to that fact, until today.
Mrs. Jordan takes her usual place on the front of her desk and smiles at us. “Today,” she says, “I am going to put you in pairs for your president project.” She starts calling names and when she finally calls my name followed by Erik’s, I freeze. I can’t even turn around and look at him.
Finally, I hear and chillingly smooth, deep voice behind me say, “Uh, hi.” I take a deep breath, turn around, force a smile, and return his hello. He sits down in the desk next to me and clears his throat. “So,” he says, “any ideas for the project?”
I shrugged. “How about Eisenhower?” I replied, “He was a very good president and I’m sure not many people will think to do a project on him.”
He’s silent for minute then smiles and nods. “Yeah, sure,” he says, “sounds good to me.” We spend the whole class period planning out our project and when the bell rings he smiles at me and bids me farewell. I can’t help but smile and blush slightly as he walks away.
The next few days are just wonderful. We spend the whole hour talking about anything and everything. We get to know each other and realize we have a lot in common that we never even guessed. Friday, he looks at me at the end of class and says, “Hey, why don’t you come over to my house tonight and we can finish up this project?” He shrugs, “Who knows. We might even get a little extra credit for finishing early.” He smiles. “What do you say?”
I smile back at him and think for a minute. Finally, I nod and say, “Sure. Sounds good.”
He nods once and heads out the door. I am stunned in place and Lyric actually has to come in and get me.
I leave school and go home for a little while. I fix myself up and head off to Erik’s house. He opens the door in a gray wife beater and some dark jeans. He welcomes me with a warm smile that only Erik could pull off and I melt. “Stop it,” I tell myself, “you cannot fall for this guy.” I push the ideas from my mind and walk inside.
Before I know it, we are in his bedroom, on the floor with both of our laptops, textbooks, library books, and notebooks strewn around us. I sit with my back arched studying a book on General Eisenhower when out of the side of my eye I see Erik sitting there just looking at me. I sit up and look at him. “What?” I ask. Without a word, he leans in and kisses me. I jump slightly.
“What’s wrong Shy?” he asks.
I am dumbfounded. “Um,” I start but can’t find the words. “Um,” finally I take a deep breath and it comes to me. “What are you doing Erik? What was that? What about Trina?”
He looks down sullenly and exhales deeply. He looks back up at me. “Trina dumped me,” he said, “for some dumb college jock.” My eyes widened and my mouth drops open as if to apologize but once again, the words can’t find their way out. He just shrugs and shakes his head.
“Erik,” I say, sliding over to him and placing a hand on his cheek, “I am so sorry.” I look into his eyes and see something I had never seen before, vulnerability. I just sat there looking at him. It was at that moment I fell in love with him. I moved closer to him and he leaned in to kiss me again. My eyes immediately closed and we were intertwined in something I couldn’t explain. It was amazing!
Four years later, I stand at the door of a church, wearing a beautiful white gown. The doors open and I see him, Erik, waiting for me and the end of the long velvet aisle. Our eyes meet and the same magic is still there. I smile brightly at him and my eyes fill with happy tears. Finally, I am by his side again and we look into each other’s eyes as we vow to love and cherish each other forever.
He puts the ring on my finger and I do the same. We have our first kiss as husband and wife and smile to our families before exiting the church. We stop just outside the door of the church and share another beautiful kiss. I smile to myself and try to urge myself not to cry again, but looking at the wonderful man that I have married, I just can’t do it. In the car, he pulls me close and wipes my tears. I lean back against him and take a deep breath, thanking God for this beautiful, unlikely romance.