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Hope (First in the Free Falling Short Stories)
Chris Nolac walks by me again. He does not acknowledge that our shoulders just came into contact, a small touch, but enough to get my heart racing. He does not look back to see who he brushed by. He keeps walking with those strong, long strides of his, not even realizing that one pair of eyes were still attached to the back of his neck.
Not even realizing how much I wanted him to notice me. Just him and no one else. Just him.
Chris Nolac was a guy anyone would call popular. He had the looks—short brown hair and playful brown eyes with a muscular body—and he was a member of Grayson High’s football team. To anyone else, he was just an average player, not the quarterback or linebacker. But to me he was the most amazing player on the team. He cared for his team, watched out for them. His team was a part of his family. He was the type of guy who would protect anyone he noticed was in trouble. He would willingly place himself in a fight to shield the victim from another blow.
He was the guy I wanted. Not a guy who continuously worried about how he looked or about his reputation. No. I wanted a guy like Chris. I wanted Chris.
Other girls would say I’m obsessed with Chris Nolac. Others would say I was getting my hopes up too high. I believe that all those girls would be right. I am obsessed with Chris Nolac. Not to the point where I would stalk him constantly and know everything about him. I was obsessed with wanting him to notice me. And because of that, my hopes were persistently above the clouds.
“Hope?” I immediately recognize the voice as Vicky Torez, my best friend. Her black hair is pulled back in a long ponytail, trailing down to her mid back. Her blue eyes watch me behind those glasses of hers.
“Yeah?” I ask, my mind focusing more on Chris than her.
She lets out a small chuckle. “The first bell just rang.” I give her an incredulous look, expecting this to be a joke, but this is Vicky and she never pulls jokes on me. I sweep my eyes to the clock and it reads 7:31 am. The bell rang one minute ago. I let out a muffled sigh and Vicky smiles at me. I place my gaze back on Vicky. My hands clutch my belongings to my chest.
First block is my favorite class. I’m always the first one into the classroom. Not to be the first to choose my seat but to watch the students file in. To watch Chris Nolac walk through the classroom door. Today, though, will be the complete opposite. I’ll be the last one walking through. All eyes will be on me. Except for Chris’s.
“Hope? You better get going. You know how Mr. Kolt is. Hates tardiness.” She sends a smile my way and I smile back, nervously. I’m not nervous about how Mr. Kolt will react.
“Yeah, I guess I better go. You too, Vick.” I slip by Vicky, but her hand reaches out and grabs my wrist. Her backpack slides down her shoulder blade and stops at her elbow.
“This is your shot, you realize that, right?” She murmurs with happiness colliding with her eyes. I instantly know what she is referring to, but I play dumb. She rolls her eyes and lowers her voice, though no one is in the same hallway as us. “Chris is in your class. You’re always the first one through that door. Now you’ll be the last.” Now is the chance for him to notice me. But he does not notice everyone.
“He won’t notice me, Vick.” My voice holds a string of sadness, sticking to my tongue as I speak. “Why would he notice me now when we’ve had at least one class together for four years?”
“Don’t believe that, Hope. He’ll notice you. I know he will.”
“Why do you believe that?”
“I try to believe in everything and this I definitely believe in. Fate has put you in this position for a reason. So don’t lose hope.” Vicky’s words travel through my mind and I start to consider that maybe she is right. Maybe fate is finally taking over and pushing me toward one of my dreams. But then why would Chris notice me? Everyone looks at anyone who walks into class late. Why would me walking in late make it any less different than another girl walking in late?
I shake my head furiously, willing tears to stay back and not pour down my face. “What makes me so different from any other girl walking in late? Chris would notice her, but he would not notice me. I’m not special.”
“Yes you are, Hope! You’re more than special!” Vicky shouts in a whispered tone.
“Why do you think that?” I ask. She releases my wrist and smiles at me.
“You’re Hope. What is the one thing your best at?” Vicky provides a dramatic pause. Then she whispers with joy, “Hoping. You are always happy and you’re always hoping. You hold your hopes up high and that’s what makes you special. You hope when everyone else desires. That will get Chris Nolac to notice you.”
Vicky’s words pulse through me as I stand next to Mr. Kolt’s door. I hope, not desire. I do not desire for Chris Nolac to notice me. I hope he will notice me. My hope is what keeps me standing, keeps me believing that he will notice me. Not tomorrow, but today. Right now.
I take a deep breath and close my eyes and think. Think of Vicky’s words. Think of my own hopes and dreams. Think of Chris Nolac.
I think of Chris and hope, and put both of those words together. I hope for Chris to notice me. I hope, I hope, I hope.
My eyes stretch open and I turn the knob of my future, let my breath out, and take a flying leap of hope. And all eyes fall on me. But I pay attention to only one pair of eyes. A sweet brown pair of eyes that look at me with curiosity and excitement. A pair of eyes that I hoped would finally notice me, and they have. Chris Nolac.