AN: I wrote this on a whim a few months back; pure, whimsical, silly fun!
Oh, and as always, Ms. Meyer owns all.
The sound of my name caused me to jerk my head up, and my hands quickly moved to hide what I had been doodling instead of taking notes. In my haste to conceal my misdeed, the pencil I'd been using rolled to the floor with an additional condemning clatter. Embarrassed, I looked towards the front of the classroom where Professor Nolan glared at me sternly over the top of his spectacles.
"Yes, Professor, sir?" My whispered response somehow managed to echo through the quiet room.
Everyone had turned in their seats to stare, hopeful to witness me receiving lines after school or extra homework for my inattentiveness. I hadn't even been aware that I'd stopped paying attention to the lesson. It was difficult to like chemistry simply in and of itself; however, my concentration scattered a hundred-fold more ever since he had been assigned the seat next to me...
"Miss Palmer," Professor Nolan barked out again, interrupting any further reveries, "since your mental facilities were elsewhere engaged, one must conclude that you feel your own knowledge superior to that of your classmates' on this subject. Therefore, I doubt you will have any difficulty enlightening them with the definition for the Periodic Law."
Thankfully, I had studied this last night and had memorized the answer. Coyly, I glanced to my right to see if he was watching—indeed, he was. Sitting up straighter in my chair, I recited, "Sir, it is the principle which states that elements' chemical properties are periodic functions of their atomic weights."
I had the slight satisfaction of seeing disappointment flicker across the professor's face—he had been hoping as well to catch me unprepared. However, in the next moment resolve hardened his eyes again, and my fists, which were still covering the corner of my paper, curled in anticipation of what was coming.
"Please see me after school this afternoon, Miss Palmer. And be thankful that you knew the answer." With one last pointed glare, Professor Nolan turned back to the chalkboard to finish the lesson.
A breath gushed out through my lips as a flush heated my cheeks. I let my dark hair fall around my face in a desperate attempt to hide from my classmates. Being called upon in class—even if I raised my hand—always caused me some anxiety...and I always blushed. In fact, to my utter horror, I was prone to this response in nearly every aspect of my life. Maman often chided me for it, yet I could not avoid it. I even had borrowed some of Amelia Corte's special face cream to ameliorate my condition; however, for all that the label—and Amelia—promised, I could notice no difference.
Professor Nolan had recommenced his lecture. Wanting to avoid further punishment, I reached for my pencil to take notes only to find that my hand touched nothing.
"I believe you dropped this, Claire," a voice gently spoke as a hand reached over from my right, holding my pencil out to me.
Instantly, my whole body flushed with pleasure at being addressed by him, and feeling his eyes on me, I turned to face him. He was the very embodiment of perfection, the kind of masculine beauty that only immortals were purported to possess.
"Thank you, Edward," I whispered. I had hoped for a more elegant rejoinder, something to impress him; yet I became inexplicably tongue-tied in his presence. So I smiled at him, hoping to thus convey what my words could not. That I adored him.
Taking the pencil from his hand, my fingertips accidentally brushed his. Where our skin met, I felt heat burn up my arm and my pulse began pounding in my ears. I chanced another glance at him to ascertain if perhaps he had experienced the same sensation. To my dismay, though his entrancing emerald eyes danced with vitality, they remained tempered by a distant undercurrent unrelated to any person or conversation. The only time he seemed fully in the present was when discussing the War. We all knew that school bored him, though he scored top marks in every class. His only ambition was to join the Army and fight overseas.
The other girls thought it very romantic; but I feared for him. Far too many of our neighborhood boys had literally let this same notion run away with them, only to die in the trenches on some barbaric battlefield from gas or bullets.
Looking into Edward's eyes, seeing the sun-filled room turn his copper hair into gleaming bronze, the idea of the same fate claiming him was more devastating than anything else I could fathom.
Should he cease to exist, I was certain, Life would altogether cease to exist.
We did not converse much, no more than I did with any of the other boys I knew. But given the chance and time, perhaps I could convince him that there were more important things in life than fighting...like love. I wanted to be that girl.
He cleared his throat purposefully, as if sensing the direction my thoughts had taken. Just as he was turning, his eyes happened across the corner of my paper, now heedlessly exposed as I'd taken my pencil back from him. He froze, visibly shocked.
With an internal groan, I instantly regretted what I had been so juvenile to write down:
Claire Marie Masen.
This was a day of unparalleled mortification. Why did my daydreams have to run away with me in this fashion? Why couldn't I be more sensible like other girls who wrote these damning declarations of love in their private journal? How completely, miserably inappropriate this all was.
Suddenly, Professor Nolan announced that class was dismissed. While our peers collected their belongings and left the room, Edward and I remained at our desks, still staring at each other.
As each second passed between us, I began to hope that my faux pas was not as offensive or unwelcome as I'd initially believed it to be received. Perhaps all he had needed to come to the same realization was my putting the idea into his head.
In my periphery, I noticed Professor Nolan walking down the row of desks towards us. I wished he would leave us in this moment, but he shattered the silence. "You will both be tardy to your next class if you do not leave. I will not write an excuse for either of you."
"I'm sorry," Edward spoke firmly, to both Professor Nolan and myself as the former returned to the front of the room.
Edward's features shifted, and I knew that all my hopes were for naught. Honestly, I chided myself, what would ever be alluring about a simple schoolgirl like me? No match to his beauty, his intelligence, or his family's wealth.
I nodded meekly in understanding, certain that the heartbreak was written across my features. I was as transparent as an open book.
Gathering my belongings, I hitched a smile on my face. "Good day, Edward," I said brightly as I exited the classroom.
The next day, the seat next to me was empty. Edward Masen had transferred to biology.