“Oh, don’t you just love the first day of school?” my best friend Elise asks, breathing in deeply as if hoping to remember the smell of dingy socks, tanning lotion, and aloe Vera.
“Of course I do, but we love it for very different reasons.” I say as we walk to our first class of the day: math. I actually really like math because there’s an exact answer for everything. It’s structured and defined. In math, the solution to your problem is there right in your head, you just have to think about it for a second.
“Yes I know, you’re all about the academics stuff,” she says rolling her eyes dramatically, “and I’m all about the guys.” She answers while her brown eyes scan the room, scoping out the ones who’ve gotten considerably cuter over the summer and ones who’ve gone a little down hill.
“Look over there at Robert Parker,” Elise says excitedly as we enter Mr. Ferris’s classroom. “God he looks cute with those glasses on…” she finishes dreamily, tucking a piece of dark brown curly hair behind her ear. Elise is kind of into the cute nerdy type, but what really gets her are wired rimmed glasses (don’t ask me why).
Looking over, I see Robert talking avidly to his best friend Beth Ingle. It was pretty obvious to everyone that they might turn into something more. When I point this out to Elise she waves her hand in a distracted sort of way having already moved on to another guy.
When Mrs. Schloss announces that we’re being assigned partners for a project, I groan silently in my head. I really hate working with partners because somehow I always end up doing all of the work and I’m already swamped as it is.
This project has to do with our philosophy unit. We’re supposed to learn about our partner’s beliefs and try to figure out why they would believe that by learning about their past.
See, this is exactly why I like math. Math is very precise and you don’t really have to over think things like you have to do for English.
“Alright,” she says “Jacob Avery, your partners with Mallory Smith. Lindsey Black, your partners with Elise Richardson. Jared Rockwell, you’re partners with Corrie Anderson. Robert Parker, you’re…”
I stop breathing, trying to convince myself that I’d just heard the names wrong, but I know I didn’t. I mean he’s not a bad guy, but his parents just got divorced and he’s pretty messed up right now. Jared hardly ever comes to class anymore so there’s no way that he knows what this project is about.
I turn around in my seat, trying to see if he’s here today. Suddenly, I spot him. His deep brown eyes lock onto mine for a second and he gives a slight nod before he looks down at his desk. For that one second I had hope that if I gave a little bit of space then maybe he’d come around.
So, I gave him a couple of days and then I decided to make the first move, trying to make this as easy and simple as possible. I found him walking towards his locker and I quickly fastened my pace to bring me next to him.
“So I was thinking that maybe we should start on the project.”
“Already?” he asks, sounding surprised.
This response kind of annoyed me because he wasn’t even making eye contact with me. How do you have a conversation with someone when they’re not even looking at you?
“Well, I mean it’s a pretty big project with only three weeks to get it done.” I add a slight edge to my voice in hopes that he would get the hint and look at me.
“Okay, we can start on it if you want. It’s not a big deal.” He says causally while spinning the lock on his locker. For some reason this aggravated me even more, I’d been trying to get some kind of reaction out of him. Why is he so calm? Does he not understand that this project, like any other project is a big deal?
“So do you want to meet up at my place tomorrow at five?” I ask.
“Sure, do I need to bring anything?”
“No, I mean we’re just supposed to learn about each others beliefs and put a presentation together.” I say quickly, trying to make this easy so that he’ll come and do his share of the work.
“Okay, I’ll see you then.” He says tossing his books in his locker. And then he did the strangest thing, he looked at me for the first time during this entire conversation and he let a small half smile lift up the left corner of his mouth, revealing a dimple on his cheek. I was so caught off guard that I could feel the heat rising in my cheeks.
“Um… okay, fine. I’ll see you tomorrow then.”
Returning his smile somewhat timidly, I turned around and walked away from him before he could see me blush.
It wasn’t until I turned around a corner of the hallway that I realized that my next class was in the opposite direction.
After school, I decided to straighten up my book shelf to avoid doing homework for a few more minutes. I grabbed the wooden chair from my desk to reach the top shelf. Carefully lifting up three books, a picture falls out from behind the pile.
Michael Adams. The intense, soul searching gaze of his blue eyes captured perfectly, brown hair sweeping across his forehead, an easy smile spread along his face, just like how I always wish I could remember him…
I place the books on the floor of my room and pick up the picture. I hold it close to my face, trying to remember all of the good times that we had shared, but my mind is blocked by the ending.
I pull it away, suddenly disgusted with myself, and tear the picture in half. Now I see him as I should have seen him all along, two faced with a torn, jagged smile.