She was tall and slim, her skin covered in a constellation of freckles. Her eyes were a soft hazel and scrunched up on the sides when she laughed loudly at her own jokes. She was completely enamoring; I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. Her name was Haleigh; a name filled with sensitivity and softness. But this girl? This girl was the exact opposite. She was a cocky, loud-mouth who strived more desperately to goof off in class than to pass the course. But man, was she pretty.
I was leaning on my elbow, watching her scribble doodles in the margins of her paper. She usually does this during class, which explains why she’s always complaining about how she fails her tests. I’m not a snoop, she’s just annoyingly loud. A piece of curly hair fell from behind her ear and I could feel my heart drop to my stomach, taken aback by her beauty. A piece of paper poked into my arm violently and I looked to see Marley smacking my arm with a piece of folded paper. I grabbed the note from her hand and attempted to decipher the chicken scratch written on it.
“Hey, you should pay attention instead of staring at Haleigh. You know we have a test tomorrow, right?” I looked back to my friend who was wiggling her eyebrows, with a smirk plastered on her face. I glared at her, balled up her note, and threw it back to her. I turned back in my seat and looked up to see Haleigh glancing back at me. She quickly turned back around and stared straight ahead like she was actually paying attention. I rolled my eyes and leaned forwards and put my chin atop my folded arms.
I walked out of the classroom as quickly as possible when the bell rang, not being able to stand the way the teacher screamed instead of talking. I waited outside of the classroom for Marley, knowing she would be mad if I left her behind. Haleigh came out before Marley did, with her arm wrapped around her large friend, Brett’s broad shoulders. She saw me standing outside the door and we held eye contact for what felt like ages, until I was finally snapped back into reality by Marley who was insistently poking at my arm. Fortunately, for me, Marley hadn’t noticed I kept solid eye contact with Haleigh for at least a solid forever because I never would have heard the end of it.
“I want to get to class before our seats get taken again.” Marley was staring down at her phone while typing out a message. “Matt says ‘hi’ by the way. He also wants me to ask you to get your brother under control. Apparently, he’s stuck in a prank war and Theodore is going all out.” Marley looked back up at me after mentioning my brother. I remained silent and shoved my hands into my deep jacket pockets.
“When are you going to talk to Theo again, Benny? I know you haven’t texted him at all since he left for college upstate.” Marley said from behind her large binder. “Trust me, I never hear the end of it with Matt complaining about how much he talks about you.”
“I have a lot on my plate,” I responded with a slight shrug, “I just don’t have the time to be talking to Theodore all the time and it seems neither does he.” I hadn’t spoken to him much since he left about a year ago for college. He didn’t leave on a good note with the family and in this small town where drama seemed to be everybody’s business, we haven’t heard the end of it enough to forget about it.
I guess it just hurt that he left after promising he would stay and take care of me, take care of the family and now he barely keeps in touch with anyone. And I’m reasonable; I know college is rough, but he could at least check in more than once a month.
Marley took the cue and carried onto a different conversation about her astrology club.