It’s 7:25am on a Friday morning and it’s early October. The air is cool enough for a light sweater but is still my favorite time of the year. My window is open a couple inches so I can feel the breeze against my face and hear the leaves scrape against the cement. School starts in about five minutes so there aren’t many kids left outside, only a couple stragglers, but I can hear them talking to each other as they make their way toward the front entrance. I’m sitting in the car with my dad just outside my high school. We’re talking about how he wants me to walk to his office after school instead of me just going straight home again.
“Dad, can I please just go home after school?” This is the hundredth time I’ve asked him this but I keep hoping he’ll give in to my begging. “I can even have Mara give me a ride and she can hang out with me until you get home from the office.”
“As much as I trust your best friend, I’m still saying no.” I cross my arms and look out the window pouting. “Nora, we’ve had this discussion and it’s getting really old. I know it’s not ‘cool’ to hang out with your dad after school, but after your mother…” I can hear him clear his throat, trying not to cry. It’s been two years and a month since she died and he still can’t help but get choked up. I relax a little, feeling bad for pushing him about this again. “It just makes me feel better knowing you’re with me and safe, okay, honey? Can we please drop this now?”
I turn back to him and nod, defeated. He thanks me and reminds me I should get going before I’m late for class. I climb out of the car and begin my trek into school, thinking about my parents and what our family used to be. The generic teenage worry that affects all of us at one point, over social status clouded my judgment – I’m normally able to push it away. It caused me to momentarily forget how difficult life has been for dad and me since mom passed away; a car accident took her from us, at least that’s what we were told. She was the glue that held us together as a family. You could tell my parents loved each other whenever they were together, it was sickeningly cute. It made me want to vomit, but that’s only because it’s weird watching your parents be cute with each other when you haven’t been able to get a boyfriend. Dad worked a lot though, so I spent most of my time with mom. She was my role model and the person who mattered most in my life. The loss was made worse by the fact dad and I weren’t very close before she died. We’ve gotten to know each other over the past couple of years, but needless to say, it has been a struggle.
The minute I enter the building, my parents are pushed from my thoughts to another monotonous day full of classes surrounded by people who seem to just pass by me and not notice I’m even a part of this school. I’m basically an observer here; if it wasn’t for my best friend, Mara, I would be invisible. My secret is I like it that way.
I make my way to my locker, which isn’t too terrible. I don’t have to dodge anyone on my way there, and the only students left in the halls are the kids that avoid going to class until the last minute. I take my extra books from my backpack and toss them on the bottom of my locker, leaving only the books I’ll need for the classes before lunch, the one I’m about to be late for most importantly – Math. I zip up my bag and hurry to class before the tardy bell has time to embarrass me, sitting in the back of the room. I take a deep breath and relax in my seat. I’m hoping to avoid talking to anyone, I won’t see Mara until lunch at fifth period and I have no interest in being social with anyone else. It sounds mean but I haven’t exactly been the most popular person at school. After mom died, everyone avoided me like the plague, unsure of what to say; Mara was the only person who stuck by me and helped me stay sane while dad and I tried to work through mom’s passing and get to know each other. Some would label me as antisocial, or a loner, or even a wallflower, but I just think of myself as passing through on my way to the next, better chapter of my life. If I have to leave these people behind to do that, it won’t bother me one bit.
The bell rings as I’m catching my breath from rushing to be on time. I sit back in my chair and take a notebook and mechanical pencil from my backpack and start jotting down today’s notes already written on the chalkboard when my teacher, Mr. Jagler, demands everyone’s attention. Apparently we have a new student. Poor kid.
“Kids, this is your new classmate, Eli,” Mr. Jagler announces. My first time looking at this new guy, and I can see a twinkle in his eyes as though he has this big secret he’s trying to hide from the world; it makes me curious. My teacher continues talking before turning the topic to Math. He tells everyone to be kind to Eli and help him become more acquainted with the school. The boy is then able to choose a desk and he picks a one on the other side of the room from where I sit. I’ve seen new students before come and go from school, but none of them grabbed my attention like he did. He is skinny but looks like he has a bit of muscle, with short brown hair, pale skin, dark green eyes, and looks to stand at about five feet, nine inches. Overall, he looks like a very average 17 year old, like me. I’m not sure what it is, but there is something about this boy that is intoxicating and intriguing, but I can’t put my finger on what it is.
I try to give up thinking about the new guy, Eli, for the rest of class and begin doodling in my notebook. Maybe Mara will hear something about him, she tends to know all of the gossip around school somehow, whereas I do everything I can to avoid it. She actually cares about social status and what our student body is up to, and I try not to get sucked in; at least something interesting happened today. I glance over at Eli and he’s looking at Mr. Jagler teaching today’s lesson. I’m marveled by his eyes and I stare at them for a few seconds before I snap out of my trance. I hope no one saw me staring. The pros of sitting in the back of the room.
After what seems to be a very long 45 minute class period, Math was over and time for one of the most pointless classes required to graduate besides Gym: Personal Financial Management, or PFM as we call it. It just teaches us how to budget money, write checks, balance a checkbook, about mortgages and their interest rates, and other life skills that I already know about thanks to my dad. I can’t complain too much though, at least it’s an easy A class. I was a little disappointed when I sat down, stared at the door when the bell rang, though; no eye candy for me. Eli doesn’t share this class with me, apparently. It was really weird feeling disappointed he wasn’t around though. I just met this kid less than an hour ago, I don’t know anything about him, and I want to see him again already? This is going to turn out horribly if I’m not careful around this guy. Something was pulling me to him and it wasn’t going to stop.
Since I was buried in my thoughts and concerns about becoming obsessed with the new kid, both PFM and my third period class, History, went really quickly; which kind of sucked because I actually enjoy my History class. My teacher actually made it fun to learn. I hope I remembered to write down the assignments, though, because I can’t remember what we talked about in class; this could be very problematic. My notebook was filled with different sized hearts and Eli’s name written in different fonts. I hoped fourth period, my favorite, would be a little easier to handle and would help me not think about how cute he is.
Go figure, my next class my Choir elective, I walk in and there’s Eli sitting on the rehearsal risers, waiting for the bell signaling the start of fourth period. I freeze in the doorway which causes other students to walk around me. I didn’t expect to see him, but why did that make my heart beat faster and make it hard for me to breathe? I am not the kind of girl to become obsessed or head over heels for a guy I’ve never even spoken to, so what makes this guy so different? I looked away and walked over to my place on the risers just before he looks over at me just in time so he doesn’t see me staring. I sit down and then chance a glance in his direction, he is looking directly at me. Just my luck, our eyes lock; it’s like I was being sucked in by his gaze. I wanted to walk over to him and be wrapped up in his arms, feel his body against mine, his hand holding mine.
He wasn’t looking away, but I couldn’t quite read the expression on his face, or what the twinkles in his eyes were trying to tell me. Why is he looking at me like that? Is he trying to tell me something? Too embarrassed to keep looking and find out, I look down and focus on the sheet music in my choir folder, my face probably as red as a giant tomato. Awesome, the new guy that I seem to care about already caught me staring at him; he’s going to think I’m some crazy stalker girl now. The weird part though, is that he didn’t look away.
Finally, the bell rings and our director runs us through warm ups, and we start rehearsing our concert pieces. I can’t help myself, I look up from my music and over at Eli. He is focused on his music but seems to be following along with the rest of us pretty well, mostly because he only just received the music today. It makes me wonder how well he can sing, I can’t pick out his voice from the group though, especially since I haven’t heard him speak yet. Either way, having my man sing for me has always been a secret wish of mine, I haven’t even told Mara about that, only mom. Why I wanted this guy to be able to sing to me was starting to freak me out. I never feel this strongly about anyone and I have not said a word to him. I keep trying to push away the thoughts and feelings I’ve developed so suddenly for Eli, but there was an unbelievable connection formed between us when we locked gazes. There was an undeniable connection that reached my soul, although, I still tried my best to deny it.