Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns all recognizable background information and characters.
The seconds ticked by on the big white clock at the front of the room. It felt as though I was the only one watching the time physically pass, everyone else was engaged in whispers of conversation as we waited for the teacher to arrive. Fifty-seven minutes. I was fifty-seven minutes and three weeks away from graduation. Then I could finally escape La Push. Not leave, but escape.
Surrounded by classmates I'd known for the entirety of my life, I sat at my desk in the corner of the room, aching for the bell to just ring already. How appropriate that I sat in the corner of the class, like a fitting metaphor for the reality of my life. Never easily noticeable at the front, never at the centre of attention in the middle, never the kid at the back who others went out of their way to talk to; just the quiet girl in the corner who minds her own business.
Not that there was any business of mine everyone didn't know about already. That's what happens in a town this small, everyone knows everyone. Well.
The teacher finally shuffled into the class with a stack of paperwork in hand. Groans and sighs were let out around me as he began to distribute the pop quizzes, though I didn't really care. It didn't go unnoticed by me that the desk beside mine was once again vacant. It was the fourth day in a row Jared had been absent.
I couldn't lie to myself; a large part of my misery belonged to him. I'm pretty sure I was six years old when I fell in love with Jared. At six, it's adorable. At ten, it's sweet. At fourteen, it's a crush. At seventeen, it's pathetic. We'd known each other since we were four. Or at least, I had known him since we were four. Some evil twist of fate had managed to make him the only person in this claustraphobic town who was completely oblivious to my existence. And it's not as though he had been ignoring me for all these years, he had just never even noticed me.
Why? I used to ask myself. How could he not know who I am? I would internally cry out.
Those were the junior years - the years I didn't particularly like to think back to; the years where I still had hope. I would hold my breath every time he looked in my direction, anticipating the first words he would ever say to me. The words that would begin our story. But they never happened, he never spoke them. Then I tried to be more strategic about it; maybe look a bit nicer one day, maybe walk past his locker another. It was hopeless, and got to the point of pitiful. I stopped with all that. Stopped with sketching our names in hearts and hoping for a miracle that wasn't going to happen.
I grew up and learned that life wasn't a fairytale. Especially not mine. I forced myself to stop trying and focused all my effort into escaping to a far away college. The feelings were still there, sure; but I had learned to control those desperate emotions with harsh doses of reality. I hoped to discover there was truth to the saying, 'out of sight, out of mind,' when I would finally flee this town.
My mom understood. She had been there through all my childhood misery of unrequited love. She would tell me I deserved the world, and any boy who hadn't noticed me after all this time wasn't worth it.
"One day, you'll find someone who will love you for you," she'd say, in true motherly fashion.
It was true though. I shouldn't hold out for someone who didn't take the time to notice me. I wouldn't be one of those girls who compromised her personality for the attention of a boy. I wasn't beautiful, but I was smart and interesting. If he didn't appreciate this after all these years, then he wasn't worth it. That's what I would tell myself. That's the mantra my brain would recite to my heart when it started to cave in.
I felt a warm breeze pass the right side of my body. Perplexed, I looked up from my paper to find the seat to next me was now filled. There he was, and yet he seemed different? Taller? I caught the quickest glimpse of his eyes and I'd swear there was something different about them.
I cast my vision back down at my paper, not letting myself become curious. I jerked my emotions back into place while I ignored the natural quickening of my heartbeat and the butterflies that assaulted my stomach in his presence.
Focus, Kim. Math.
I began to map out a diagram and then once again, checked the clock to make sure time was indeed passing and I wasn't getting jipped in my countdown to escape.
"Can I borrow a pencil?"
It was his voice.
He had talked to me.
Jared had talked to me?
For the first time in a long time, I found myself wishing time would actually stop.
Stop, rewind and replay.
His eyes grew wide, probably mirroring my own. My heart went erratic and I swear I could hear it beating in my ears. My breath caught in my throat and my stomach began to knot. My emotions began creeping back up, but I broke eye contact and abruptly forced the feelings back down.
No, Kim. Don't try.
I rolled the pencil across the desk, where he reached over to pick it up. I could feel his eyes still watching me.
Why? What is he looking at?
I began to feel self-conscious and couldn't make myself concentrate. I didn't let my vision slip anywhere off my desk for the hour. This was bad, very bad. The last thing I needed was to get my hopes up - three weeks before fleeing - over a borrowed pencil. I barely knew what I was writing for the rest of that class. I filled in the blank spaces, but with what, I couldn't tell you. My heart didn't give out; it kept beating just as fast and strong. I knew I had to get out of there before my emotions would overcome me and I would slip back into lovesick-teenager mode.
The bell – my saviour – finally rang, and I was up and out of the class in four short strides.
Four strides and three weeks closer to my escape from La Push.