The sound of my alarm clock wakes me up from my happy sleep. I sit up and rub my eyes remembering all that had happened yesterday. I feel giddy inside. In an attempt to calm the butterflies I walk into the bathroom. Slowly I brush through my knotted hair as I look at myself in the mirror. I put on some mascara, pop some zits, and brush my hair over my shoulder. Breathe. Deep deep breaths.
I open my closet door and pull out the first thing I see. It’s a blue sweater that I bought with Ally back in Portland. I can still hear her saying “Look Katie! It’s cute and comfy!” Then I remember our conversation last night. She seemed nearly as excited as I was. Silently I laugh to myself and walk to the kitchen.
Austin sits alone at the table shoveling pancakes into his mouth. “So when is your boyfriend going to be here?” He asks with a smirk.
“In ten minutes. And he’s not my boyfriend. We are just friends.”
“Well in that case do you think I could get a ride?”
I hesitate not wanting to say yes but not wanting my feelings to be obvious. “Probably.” But Austin doesn’t overlook my hesitation.
“Actually on second though, I’d rather not intrude on your friend time together,” he replies putting quotes around the word friend. I just shrug it off and walk to the refrigerator. I grab the syrup and sit down at the table opposite of Austin. By that time he is finished and heads out the door.
“See you later.” He waves and shuts the door behind him. I glance around the room as I chew a piece of pancake. How does this house look the exact same as it used to? The brown cabinets, the grey tile on the floor, and even the missing paint above the doorframe still exist. I’m lost in my examination when I hear a quiet knock on the door. I look at the clock, Ryan shouldn’t be here yet. It’s probably Austin, he just forgot something. I put another piece of pancake in my mouth and hurry to the front door. I open it and there stands Ryan. I try to hurriedly swallow the pancake in my mouth. Without success I motion for him to come in. We walk into the kitchen and I finally am able to swallow.
“Sorry,” I say. “You’re early.”
He smiles. “Yeah I had to drop my little sister off at school earlier than usual this morning. Sorry that I caught you off guard.”
“No problem. I didn’t know you have a little sister. How old is she?” I look at the table and grab my dirty plate and run it to the sink. Next the syrup is put away in the bottom shelf of the fridge. I try to hide my face from him. Sisters are a sore subject for me.
“She’s six. There’s a big age difference between us.”
“Oh.” I look down.
“Hey are you okay?”
I take a deep breath. “Yes. I’m fine.” After cleaning up, I say “Okay I’m ready to go.” I go to pick up my backpack but Ryan beats me to it.
“I’ve got it,” he says. “No need to lose that button again.” I smile at him. Could he get anymore perfect? I climb up into his truck and he tosses my bag into the backseat. “Looks like you are more prepared today.”
“Yup. I’ve got my coat, I knew how I was getting to school today, and it is not raining. I think I about covered everything.”
He laughs. “Well the rain thing you couldn’t control but for the coat and school thing, I give you props.”
“Why thank you.” Suddenly a drop of water lands on the windshield.
“Looks like a good thing that I offered you a ride today.”
“Looks like a good thing that I said yes.” I look over to him and smile. By then we had reached the school’s parking lot and once again, there was Samantha Newark staring us down. But unlike the last time, I smile and let myself feel proud.
Ryan carries my backpack for me into English class where we continue to talk about our families. He tells me more about his sister Sophia and his brother Caleb who are both much younger than him. I tell him more about Austin but skip over my problems with my parents. I don’t know him well enough for that yet.
When the bell rings for class to end, I grab my bag and start to leave. Ryan stops me.
“Do you want to hang out on Friday? I could show you where I go to escape.”
“Well it seems only fitting since you know that I run to that pond.” We both grin.
“Great. I will pick you up at six.”
“Great.” We walk out of the classroom and go our opposite ways. But this time when I turn to look back at him, Ryan is turned watching me leave too.