The day went by quickly, Mercedes passing from class to class, always somewhere in the middle. She recalled being an eager pupil in her earlier days, but seeing as though that had, too, brought her ridicule, she took to rarely raising her hand in class, even when the answer was on the tip of her tongue. She could tell that some of her teachers looked at her with a fondness, but their kind eyes faded after some time; she assumed they figured her concern with school and learning had diminished, as it did with most seniors. The bell rang to dismiss her fourth period and the students flooded out the classroom before their teacher could assign homework. Mercedes trudged out of the small room into the overpopulated hallway, holding her binder and books close to her chest before she arrived to her locker. Mercedes turned the combination even slower, her fingers trembling around the metal, her books almost slipping from her grasp. Biting her lip, she thought about how the events of her afternoon would line up, she didn't expect much. In honesty, Mercedes hadn't even seen Sebastian that day. She hadn't looked either, but inwardly she prayed that he was absent that day and she would only have to suffer through an apology for not living up to his promise. Her stomach twisted in knots, anticipation crawling at her fingertips. By the time she got her locker fully open, the hallway had began to empty; Mercedes drug her backpack from the enclosed space and dumped what she needed for the night into it. Closing it behind her, she made the trek to the student parking lot. The platform outside the door subsided into a few steps onto the pavement followed by a half-acre of faded pavement lines. A group was clustered around the exit, they didn't bother to move for Mercedes and were deaf to her pleads to get by them. Finally finding a way to squeeze through the crowd, she walked onto the pavement, allowing her eyes to search for Sebastian, though she attempted to maintain an unconcerned look. Her eyes eventually reached him, he was pushed against his car, arms crossed, gray and white button up shirt with a light green windbreaker on. He had garnered a crowd, his foot was on the front detail and he was scrutinizing something someone was saying. They made brief eye contact, Mercedes's heart fluttering a small bit, she felt a twinge in her stomach. She felt the corners of her lips beginning to turn up into a smile, but instead of waving her over, Sebastian looked away and continued his conversation.
Mercedes's heart dropped, she wrapped her fingers around her backpack's straps and kept walking towards the sidewalk to her home. She stared at her feet during the duration of the walk, doing her best to ignore the heavy feeling in her chest, instead she thought about stopping at the library to read or stopping by the thrift store. A massive, pathetic feeling sat on her shoulders and she made a vow to never speak to Sebastian again, or any boy for that matter. She wanted to take her mind off of Sebastian, and would take a drastic measure to do anything that would make her feel less stupid. After about ten minutes of walking, Mercedes turned into a residential neighborhood that usually prolonged her trip, but it kept her off the main road. Passing by a few trash cans at the entrance, she heard a car come beside her, not that she bothered to turn around. The car came to halt nearly three yards in front of her, a green-clad Sebastian hopping out of the driver's seat and placing his arms on the roof.
He looked confused, holding his hands in apprehension. "A 'no' would've sufficed."
"What?' Mercedes responded, walking until she reached the car, crossing her arms and pursing her lips.
Sebastian laughed, "Okay, short term memory, obviously. We talked on the phone last night,' he motioned a phone with his hand. "I was supposed to take you home. Is that ringing a bell?"
"I remember. I also remember when I went to the student parking lot you were with all your friends and you looked at me and looked away, so,' Mercedes shrugged.
Sebastian looked between Mercedes eyes, "I'm sorry, I didn't see you. It's a big school, Mercedes." He scrunched his nose, nodding a bit in emphasis, "You're really reaching."
She crossed her arms and made a motion to keep walking before Sebastian raised his own in surrender. "Just,' he sighed. "Let me take you home, it's getting cold."
With a loud sigh, Mercedes walked over to Sebastian's car door, pulling on the locked handle. Her suitor smirked a bit and sat back in the driver's seat, leaning over to open the passenger door. Mercedes sat down lightly and placed her backpack at her feet. "Just stay on this street and take the last left before the dead end,' she explained.
Sebastian asked about how classes were going, questioned her about her attendance to football games and wrestling matches, sports he held medals in for both.
"I'm not really a big sports fan,' she shrugged. "Never understood it."
"I get that,' Sebastian replied vaguely, coming to a stop and looking right then left. "I couldn't convince you to come to a game?"
"Maybe, you could,' Mercedes said, pointing her finger to the road that would put them closer to her destination. "I don't think I'd enjoy walking home alone that late at night though."
Sebastian took one hand off the wheel to rub his jaw, "Your mom couldn't pick you up? You don't have any friends willing to give you rides?"
"Most of the gas goes to getting my mom back and forth to work,' Mercedes admitted with a sigh. "And no. None of my friends live in my neighborhood, and they act like driving the extra ten minutes to drop me off would kill them. It's okay though, I don't mind walking usually. I just wouldn't want to that late at night."
Mercedes pointed to a few more roads that landed them in her neighborhood, Sebastian pulling into her driveway and putting the car in park. He pulled his hands off the wheel and wringed them, looking over at Mercedes who was already reaching for the door handle.
"Thanks for the ride, by the way,' she started, opening the door.
"No invite?' Sebastian asked, raising an eyebrow. He watched Mercedes flush instantly, her fingers tapping around the handle.
"I don't know, if my momma comes home and sees you here, that's my behind handed to me on a platter. I couldn't explain it."
Sebastian pushed himself back in his seat and shrugged. "If you always do what momma says."
She warned him to take his shoes off at the door, a habit that her mother had made her accustomed to at a young age. The front room was small and cozy, a fireplace on the left and a few chairs for whenever company visited. Mercedes offered Sebastian a brief tour of the kitchen, a well-lit, white area with a few remnants of baking soda from the previous night. She wiped away the mess before sitting her backpack down on the table and pulled out a few textbooks, preparing herself for the night's homework. Looking up from the table, Mercedes watched Sebastian, who still hovered in the doorway to the kitchen.
"Is that the end of the tour?' Sebastian asked, his hands shoved in his pockets as he scanned the kitchen with a blank expression but an upturned nose.
"Yeah, that's about it, Sebastian."
"Let's see your room,' he said boldly, walking down the home's main corridor to where he assumed the bedrooms were located. Mercedes jolted up to follow him in an effort to make sure he ventured into the correct room, seeing as though she felt convincing him to stop would prove futile by that time. Sliding in front of him, she sighed, prayed her mother would be late coming home, and pushed her room door open and closed it behind them. Mercedes's room was highlighted in warm tones and the sun's light shone hazily through the window blinds. Black carpeting covered the room and the walls were a muted red. Most of the room was accented with dark red, including her comforter, while her vanity and bedposts were a light wood. The room had a heavy scent of hair product or air freshener or lotion or incense or candles. Her room was small but immaculately clean, Sebastian's attention pulling to two speakers on the side of her bed that played a popular song from the radio.
"Nice,' he admitted, sitting on the edge of her bed. "I like it."
Mercedes joined him on the side of her bed, pushing her hair behind her ears. "Thanks,' her heart raced as Sebastian slid closer to her. "It's my own personal space, I think it has my touch."
"Yeah,' he laughed. "Rooms tend to do that,' looking around Sebastian laid his eyes on Mercedes's cracked closet. "I bet you have, like, one hundred pairs of shoes."
She laughed, "The only person with more pairs than you."
"How'd you know?"
Chuckling a bit, Mercedes relaxed, placing her hands behind her and propping herself up on her elbows. She stared at the ceiling for a few seconds, taking in the smell, the warmth, and taking in his presence. She wondered if any other girls were wishing they were where she was, but she didn't see Sebastian as unachievable. Untouchable, yes, but if anyone wanted him, well, they could have him. "I bet you've toured, like, one hundred girls' rooms."
Sebastian smiled, turned a bit and ran the outside of his hand along Mercedes's thigh, he slowed when he felt her shiver at his touch. "Just one."
"Hard to believe,' Mercedes whispered, considering moving Sebastian's hand. She watched him smile again as his hand moved further into her thigh, she gave a small frown when he looked at her.
"I'm not like those other girls,' she said, sitting back up and moving his hand away from her leg.
"I know you aren't, that's why I like you,' Sebastian admitted with another grin, that same chesire smile, the one she wanted to hate. The two stared at each other for a few seconds, Mercedes inching back and returning a smirk, with more malignant wrinkles in her cheek. Her worries personified themselves, and though her third grade-self beamed to be close to him, that close to him, Mercedes knew that the only reason she'd attracted his attention was her possession of sexual organs. An annoying sensation scratched the back of her throat, one she would have described as anger and disappointment, with herself and him.
Scoffing, Mercedes stood up from her bed and wiped her hands off on her pants. "I think maybe you should go."
Hanging his head, Sebastian nodded after, standing up and following Mercedes out of the room. "You're right,' he hesitated. "What was I thinking? I should've known."
Mercedes crossed her arms when she arrived to her front door, looking the boy over. "Should've known what?' she questioned, placing a hand on her hip.
He reached for the door and stepped outside, an attempt to be out of her grasp when he spoke. "You weren't cool to hang. I mean, you don't look like much, but I thought you couldn't be a stick in the mud… Not with that ass,' Sebastian gave a stiff shrug.
Taking a deep breath, Mercedes's blood began to boil. "I'll have you know-' she started in, but her focus began to lift from Sebastian and instead to her mother's car pulling into the driveway. Stopping mid-sentence, Mercedes cursed to herself and began to push Sebastian off the doorstep and back to his car before pulling her screen door closed. "Oh, my God. You have to go, now!
"No, I don't want any of those products, sir,' she shouted loudly in an attempt to convince her mother Sebastian was a salesman. "Bye,' she said, closing the door as she spoke, her mother beginning to exit the car. "I'll talk to you later, just, go, bye– don't talk to her."