Just Listen – Owen's Point of View

I noticed her the first day she sat down on the wall next to me. I remembered her vaguely as one of the popular girls from the beginning of last year. She used to hang out with that girl, what's her name? Sarah, or Sophie, something like that. They were always together, which made me wonder why this girl was sitting on the wall, alone, and not with her friends.

I could feel her looking at me. Feel her light stare on my face, no doubt wondering if I was someone to be feared. She probably either saw or heard about what I did to that guy Ronnie last year, or even more, heard about the fight I got into at that club - the reason I went away for a while.

Against my will, I felt a little ashamed and it confused me. Normally I didn't care what people thought of me, especially the robot kids at school. They don't know anything about me and have no right to judge me. But for some strange reason, I kept hoping that she didn't think I was bad or terrifying.

Then she looked away and it unexpectedly felt like something was missing. Like when she tore her gaze away from me, she also tore one of my limbs off. With her attention turned to girl with black hair sitting on the other side of her, I took the time to study her out of the corner of my eye, as she had me.

She had a soft looking face, at least as much as I could tell from her profile. Her nose fell to a soft slope above her mouth, which was open slightly, ready to accept the sandwich she was holding lightly in her hands. Her blond hair cascaded gracefully around her face, and down her back. She was thin, fragile almost, but looked like she could hold her own none the less.

Before I could stop the thought rising in the back of my mind, it was there. She's beautiful. I looked away embarrassed, as if she could hear my thoughts, and would be disgusted that I was thinking about her in that way. She didn't even know me.

Since even before going to anger management, I had turned my focus away from girls, and towards something that I had thought was more. I immersed myself in the calm, beautiful, and intense world of music. During my parents divorce, I had used music as an escape; a means of blocking out all the pain and anger that radiated from both of my parents. Then I began to see music as more of a way to express some of the anger I felt. The music I listened to reflected my mood. When I was sad, the music was soothing and quiet, when I was happy upbeat, when I was mad, loud and angry. Then everything began to blend together. Each song spoke to me – had a different message to share.

I set out to find new interesting genres of music that could fill my head with understanding, with enlightenment. I became obsessed.

When I glanced back I saw the girl lower her hand and open her mouth more as to say something to the other girl, who was looking back at her. But then suddenly the girl turned away from her, gathered her books together, and walked away quickly, like she couldn't put enough distance between them fast enough.

The girl with the blond hair and soft looking face, watched her walk away and then looked down at her sandwich not lifting her eyes from it again. What had happened between them? Why was the other girl so quick to walk away?

I looked away from her and focused on the steady rhythm of the notes that flooded from my earphones. We sat like that for the remainder of lunch, not looking at each other.

When I finally caught her movement out of the corner of my eyes, there were only a few minutes of lunch left. People were beginning to exit the quad and return to the school building. She lifted her arm to look at her watch, and began to pack up her half-eaten lunch.

When she had almost finished her task, she looked up for the first time in almost an hour, and froze. I followed her line of sight to a red Jeep parked at the curb. I hadn't even noticed it approach. A brown-haired guy had just gotten out, and was talking to the driver. When he finally said goodbye and started to walk up to the building, the girl stiffened next to me.

Her gaze was zeroed in on the driver still in the car.

He looked around the courtyard, and then met the gaze of the perfect statue next to me. He looked away quickly without recognition, and I suspected that she had some sort of crush on this guy. Maybe that was why she was watching him so intently.

She continued watched as the Jeep pulled away and drove up and over the hill, out of sight. Without warning, she put her hand over her mouth, turned, and vomited into the grass behind her. Obviously, I had been mistaken. Something was wrong. There was something about that guy that made her sick. I couldn't pin point what it was.

When she looked up, she quickly glanced around the almost empty courtyard, and then locked eyes with me.

I was startled by the intensity that her eyes held. Yes, something was defiantly wrong. Her eyes said it all. She was not all right. And yet, I couldn't bring myself to ask her if she was okay. It was when she looked away, obviously embarrassed, that I made my escape from her presence. I quickly but quietly got up willing my bulky body to walk away from her, into the school where everyone else had already gathered for their afternoon classes.

When I reached to building, I glanced back over my shoulder, and saw that she had her head in hands. Sitting there alone.