My oxford is sticking to me. Its clinging to my shoulders and my back. Poofing out at the hips where my tiny skirt wraps around my waist. Catholic school uniforms. How much I despise wearing them. And how much I enjoy watching others wear them. Specifically, her.
I'm not wearing my backpack toady. Shocker. I know. Even if I was it wouldn't contain more than one book. Possibly a spiral. Hard-working student, I am not. My beatup old school shoes are flopping on my feet. The backs are practically gone. The actual shoe more duct tape than anything else. I glance down to make sure I haven't lost half of it somewhere behind me. Nope, still attached.
My friend's excited chattering brings me from my self-inspection. From my breif thought of her in her school uniform. I don't even recognize those thoughts anymore. They are so normal now. She flits in and out of my mind with an ease that I envy. I wish I could control that ease. Drag her from my thoughts when I should be concentrating on something else. Like my 300-point english essay last period which ended up more scribbles. Lazy A's turned into loose shapes. Realizing that I'm obssessing, I focus on the conversation next to me.
"So I told him that I didn't want to be a lobster for homecoming..."
I lose my focus.
These people aren't really my friends. They're just people who walk up next to me. They cling to my side. They try to gain my attention. I smile swiftly. I ignore them. I'm flicking my eyes around the hallway, letting them do the dance they know so well. Touch on a face, avoid the eyes, move on. I'm looking for her, whether I let myself realize that anymore. You should see me at lunch. You should see me when she's in my lunch. My mind starts to drift.
And then I see her.
There's no one beside her. No one in front of her. No one behind her. There's a three foot area of emptiness around her. That never happens. She's always surrounded by her friends. But there's that emptiness. Other people scared of getting too close. I can't take my eyes from her face, so I just assume those people are freshmen. She can be kind of intimidating. Ok a lot intimidating. I would know.
"What'd you order?" Her eyes are peering into mine. Testing me I think. I feel a shy smile creep up my face. A nervous smile. An invouluntary smile.
"Chicken sandwich and a coke." I manage to mutter, forcing my mouth to form actual words. She nods, her dark brown eyes never leaving mine. They're so dark. So big. So...deep. I get so lost in them. Until I met her, I hadn't known what getting lost in someone's eyes meant. Now I do. Everything else loses focus.
She smiles. Her nose crinkles adorably.
"Me too." I'm leaning against the Chik-fil-a counter, hands fluttering nervously, my friends waiting to the side. She's waiting as well. Its nearly nine o'clock and the resturant should be closed. They stayed open for us. My basketball team, I mean. God she's beautiful.
And then her eyes leave mine. They go to her best friend, across the resturaunt. Her best friend who's calling to her.
"Just a second!" She yells back. She turns and flashes me a grin. And then she disappears.
I'm still watching her, and the time is passing by gloriously slowly. I know her eyes will meet mine. I know I shouldn't let her catch me staring. I know I won't be able to help it. Each loose curl. Each sparkle in her eye. Each movement in her face as her eyes flick, almost nervously, over faces. She's doing the same dance I perfected. She's looking for something. She's waiting. And she's walking a couple feet from me.
And slowly, we come closer, and she's coming closer to me. Each step she takes veers right. Aims to me. She still hasn't met my eyes, but I have a feeling she can feel me looking. And then, with only a foot of space seperating us, she glances up.
And I am lost.
There is nothing friendly in her gaze. Nothing that should even remotely make me hope that she even notices me. But I know. And maybe in a couple minutes, I'll be doubting what I know and what she knows. But for now, I am certain. I am certain of the way her eyes stay on mine. I am certain of the trip time has made as it slows down for us. Her eyes say it all. I don't understand this feeling. I am utterly, completely stupid right now. You could ask me what my name was and I would tell you "brown".
And now she's barely a centimeter away from me. A second. A breath. Her eyes drop from mine. And I remember how to breathe. I remember that I kind of have to. And then, she brushes my shoulder. Her arms is against mine. Roughly. Almost pushing me. She's touching me. And every alarm I have going in my system is blaring, beeping, swiriling colorful lights through my brain. Telling me I have officially lost my mind.
And she's the one who stole it.
I feel an unexplainable smile creep up my face and I shove it down forcefully. I don't have a reason for smiles like that. None. I can still feel her shoulder on mine. I know she's somewhere behind me. I can feel it. I can feel it and I want to turn and look, but that would be way too obvious.
My eyes flick up from their steady inspection of the tiled floor. They meet my best friend's gaze at the end of the hall. She's watching me carefully and I know she knows. She so knows. How can she not know? And that old wash of anxiety doesn't even go through me. That's how much I know she knows. I don't even worry about it anymore. My gaze flicks around. I want to turn completley around and search down the hall. I can't. So I take control of my wandering eyes and focus them on the African-American girl at the end of the hall.
I fall back from the line that has swept me up and into step with Chloe. She flashes me one of her signature smiles. They say "I have a good life, so I'm gonna smile. Got a problem with it?" And in my brain I'm begging her to ask me about what just happened in the hall. To ask me about the brush. The touch. The eyes. I want to say her name. I want to talk about her. Chloe takes her sweet time. She knows. And she's gonna make me work for it.
"So, how was McGregor today?" I ask, breaking the comfortable silence. She shoots me a look of intense annoyance.
"The bitch? Bitchy." I smile ruefully.
"Nice use of adjectives." I say. She grins and I know I've passed my test of patience for today.
"So, what was that back there?" She asks. I fake innocence. I have to. Its a game we play. Both faking the hetero feelings that we wear for the world to see.
"You know, with the bump? You steal her coffee or something?" I laugh a little.
"Who, Ashey?" A thrill races through me when I say her name. The name I say to myself, just to hear it. The name from which so many of my feelings stem. So many insecurities. Chloe nods and I shrug. "I don't know. Kind of weird right?" I ask because I want- I need- a confirmation. I need to know that what I just felt, other people saw it. And that makes it real.
"Yeah, weird. You sure you didn't piss her off?" And I love Chloe, because now we're talking about her. And I know Chloe doesn't care. That she's only doing this for me. I feel a rush of adrenaline at just the thought of her. Of Ashley. And we're talking about her, which feels so against the rules.
"I don't think so. I never talk to her in p.e.." No, but I do stare at her. We have p.e. together. First period. Every morning. Basketball p.e., to be exact. In other words, hell. But its my favorite class. She's in it. Chloe shrugs and we keep walking. Somehow, we're now talking about the Dasboard Confessional concert coming up. But my mind is on her. And that shoulder touch. And those eyes.
And I am lost.