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Colors of Chemistry
Red. God, I used to hate him. That way he walked around knowing he was better than everyone, that proud look in his eye. He wasn't that great. I met in him in chemistry this year. He's the type of guy girls use as the 'rebound' guy. But Liam never minded much. A date's a date right?
We were lab partners for the first semester of my junior year. He always had that stupid cell phone of his out, texting his latest squeeze, leaving me with all the work. It drove me absolutely insane! We never talked; I didn't have anything that needed to be said that wouldn't get me sent to the office I guess.
After the semester was up, my classes changed. Chemistry changed to be specific. I couldn't have been happier. Now I only have to carry the work of one, I smirked. My last day in the class, waiting for the lunch bell to ring, he finally spoke to me.
'Man, now I'll have to start doing work again.' He laughed lightly. I rolled my eyes.
'Oh, what a shame, doing your own work for the semester that is left. Such a pain.' I said as sarcastic and harsh as I could. His mouth dropped slightly as the bell rang, and I hurried out of there.
Orange. I was rid of him! Now, I only had myself to worry about- well, except for the animals at the pet rescue I volunteered at.
It was Tuesday afternoon and I was giving the new retriever-lab mix, Gina, a bath. It seemed like I was the one getting washed though, I was soaked to the bone. I could hear the tiny bubbles popping in my hair after Gina had fully shaken off. I laughed while scratching her belly. She rolled onto her back, her thick tail thumping against the side of the tub, and I continued.
I head a deep chuckle from behind me. I turned my head to the side and tried to see my visitor. I'm glad I was holding Gina's collar, otherwise my hands would have been balled up into fists.
'What do you need Liam?' I asked, trying to continue with Gina.
He flashed me a dazzling smile.
'Miss Val told me to come back here and find you. You know, so you can show me the ropes and everything.' He sounded the slightest bit smug, he knew I despised him.
'What do you mean 'show you the ropes'? You don't work here.'
'Now I do.'
Those three little words bounced around my head. You have got to be kidding me, I thought, he has the compassion and patience of a slug; he'll never last a day here. I watched him walk around the room, touching everything. Then he turned around and smirked in my direction. He's about as slimy as one too.
I put on the best smile I could. 'Come on,' I said, standing up. Gina leaned her wet body against my leg. I reached down and scratched under her ears, then looked back up at Liam
'Let's get to work.'
Yellow. In the end, I actually did have to show him around. And Liam actually made it through the first day. But still, I avoided him. He managed to come nearly every time I did, except for two. Sunday afternoon and Friday mornings. Even with school, I would wake up at about 4:30 and go to the rescue for an hour. No guy is that dedicated.
'Hey Caitlin,' Miss Val asked. I had just brought one of the rowdier dogs back in from his walk and was struggling with his leash.
'You know how this weekend there is a big pet event at the mall?' she asked. I managed to get the alpha male in the kennel, and pushed the door shut.
'Well yeah, I'm going.' I said. She began to fidget with her sleeves. I laughed lightly.
'Miss Val, if you need a favor, just ask. I don't mind.'
She smiled and breathed out a little.
'Thank you Caitlin. I need you and Liam to drive the pets to the event on Saturday. I have to be there early to help set up our booth.'
My face nearly fell.
'O-oh, me and Liam? Are you sure he can handle it?' I asked, hoping to subtly bring her attention to the fact I really did not want to go with him.
'Oh, I'm very sure. I actually saw him walking Toby last week, and he is definitely more of a pain than all the dogs you will be handing.' She laughed.
Toby?? I thought, the Great Dane they rescued?? No way, I'll believe that when I see it.
'Oh, okay? But, have you already talked to him about it? Liam may already have somet-'
'Liam is thrilled about going.'
I was out of excuses.
'Caitlin, what do you have against Liam? He is a very nice young man you know.'
I didn't know what to say. As I thought about it, I didn't really have a good reason for my hatred of him.
'Caitlin,' Miss Val touched my arm, 'are you going to be ok with this? I can always get Andrea or Katherine to go.' She said softly. I said I was fine, and she smiled.
'Good, I'll see you there.'
Green. I sat waiting for Liam in Miss Val's office. We were supposed to take fifteen dogs to the mall, and of course he was late. I anxiously tapped my fingers on the desk. I was regretting this day all week, and it looked like all that worrying was for nothing.
Finally, the door opened and a windswept Liam walked through.
'You're late.' I said sharply, standing up.
'You think?' he bit back. I raised my eyebrows at this. He threw his backpack down and ran his hands through his hair, breathing deeply.
'Why are you so stressed today?' I asked him, almost mockingly. He shook his head and grabbed the keys to the van we were to take.
'Hey,' I said, grabbing his arm. He whipped around and grabbed the back of my shirt, pulling me into him hard. My eyes widened as I felt a blush rise on my cheeks. Liam looked me deep in the eyes, and then he let me go. I remained on him for a moment, then I slowly backed away.
We didn't talk at all while loading the dogs into the van. In fact, we avoided each other as usual. I was immersed in thought after our contact. My pulse raced and my heart had stopped for that one moment. It's because you hate him, I reassured myself, it just scared you.
Liam walked in and led one of the larger dogs out of the kennel. I looked at him, how he so carefully took the dog, gracefully walking out. He looked up at me for a second, but I quickly looked away.
Blue. When all the dogs were in, Liam climbed into the driver's seat, so I went to the passenger side. An awkward tension hung heavy, but I wasn't going o be the one to break it. Liam put the car into gear, and pulled out of the bumpy, gravel driveway.
I opened my mouth to say something, but I had no clue what to say.
'What's on your mind?'
I looked over at Liam.
'Pardon?' I asked.
He focused intently on the road, yet he was relaxed in his seat. His honey colored hair blew back softly in the gentle autumn breeze blowing in through his opened window.
'I asked what's on your mind. You've been digging your nails into your palm ever since we got into the car.' He said, no emotion whatsoever
'Nothing.' I looked down.
'I think there is something.' I looked back up at him.
'Why do you care so much?'
'Good.' He adjusted his hands on the wheel.
'Why did you pull me onto you?' I asked, staring at him. He shrugged.
'I dunno, it seemed like a good idea at the time, and I got a great reaction from you.'
I was outraged. Anger bubbled up inside of me. I swore my eyes must have turned red and smoke was pouring out my ears. But, I held everything in. I crossed my arms and turned to look out the window so my entire back was facing him.
Boys! I thought angrily, who needs them?
We didn't speak for the rest of the ride there.
Indigo. When we arrived, Miss Val was fully in her panic stage.
'Where have you two been?' she scolded, 'We almost lost our spot!! I was about to have a heart attack!!' She paced back and forth in front of us. 'Caitlin, you know better! I can't believe you would come so late and do this to me! Caitlin, I swear, I really, really should,' she trailed off. I sat in shame, head down and heart barely beating. I can't believe it, she is blaming me'.
Miss Val finally walked away. I looked up and Liam was staring down at me. I sniffled and wiped my eyes. He was expressionless.
'Just go away Liam, please just go.' He looked at me for a second or two, and then turned to walk away too. I couldn't bear to watch him walk away.
And even though I was the one who wanted it, it hurt to be so alone.
Violet. I sat in the food court playing with my frozen yogurt. The man who had sold it to me said he felt bad for me, so he gave me extra sprinkles. That cheered me up a little.
I looked at all the colors that had swirled around in my cup. The vanilla had stained to be a spectrum of color. A rainbow. That little glimpse of color made me smile. All the reds and blues, greens and yellows, dancing around. Then, somebody sat down in front of me and awoke me from my sugary daydream.
'Hey Liam,' I said, monotone.
'Caitlin, I talked to Miss Val, I'm so, so-'
'Please, just don't.'
He put his hand on mine. I looked up at him for a second then back down. He was staring deep in my eyes, but I was staring at our hands. I tried to pull mine away, but he held it down with his. I looked up at him and got caught in his gaze. I got lost in the reds and blues, the greens and yellows. I couldn't believe I had never noticed that before, and smiled. A rainbow was smiling back at me.