Ugh. Going to a new school was going to be such a bummer.
She glanced around the classroom, tapping her foot nervously, trying not to fidget. Her eyes unconsciously traveled around the room, observing her soon-to-be classmates. After what seemed like an eternity, the clear sound of a teacher’s shoes on the hard tile jerked the girl out of her trance. The teacher motioned for her to introduce herself to the class, smiling ambiently.
“Uh…I’m, uh I mean you can call me uh, wait um, my name is Jennifer,” she finally blurted out. She could feel the gaze of the whole class on her as she shuffled towards the desk that Mrs. Vanderhoff had pointed her to. She sat down wearily, glad to be away from the center of attention.
She suddenly heard a voice and wondered if it was directed towards her. She looked up and saw a boy standing beside her desk.
“Excuse me, you’re sitting in my desk,” he said, a small smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. Horrified, she noticed an unfamiliar bag next to the desk and realized that the teacher must have been referring to the empty desk behind it. Her heart sunk and she could feel her cheeks reddening. She hurried to stand up, stumbling over her own feet. How could this day get any worse, she thought angrily.
For the next 45 minutes, Jennifer listened to the teacher’s voice drone on. She doodled on the cover of her notebook and watched the minute hand slowly tick by. When the bell finally rang, she sighed gratefully and hurried to lunch, glad to leave the tense atmosphere of the room.
Jennifer stopped at her locker, looking down at the numbers she had scribbled on her hand that morning. The locker door swung open on her first try and she smiled for the first time that day. She grabbed her lunch box and a book and slammed it shut.
She followed everyone to where she assumed the lunch room was located and chewed on her lip. Where was the new girl supposed to sit? She surveyed the huge rows of tables and decided to sit in the farthest corner of the room, where (she hoped) no one would bother her. She took out her lunch container and took a moment to feel proud of herself for managing to find a relatively foolproof recipe for meatloaf online and scrounging together the ingredients at the last moment. And it did smell okay.
Just as she was ready to start digging in, spoon poised in her hand, ready for action, she heard someone sit down on the bench next to her. She turned, and her heartbeat quickened. It was the boy whose desk she had stole accidentally. Was he here to humiliate her further?
“Hey,” he said, grinning at her open mouth. He set down his lunch and began to eat, a content look on his face. Jennifer scooted a little farther unconsciously and chose to ignore him. But after several attempts, she began to realize that his presence was unavoidable. She entertained the thought of starting a conversation, but before she could say anything, she noticed a group of people making their way towards her table.
“Hey, we’re sitting over there. You can come sit with us if you want,” said the girl who was leading the group, trying to look flirtatious. Jennifer recognized her from her history class. She noticed a few of the other people giving her pointed looks, and was about to say that he was more than welcome to go and sit with them, but he answered before she got the chance.
“Nah, I’m good, see you in chemistry,” he replied. Jennifer cringed as the girl shot her a glare, flipping her hair and sauntered away, her 6-inch heels clicking on the floor of the cafeteria.
“So,” he continued, casually biting into a carrot. “How are you enjoying school here, Jennifer?”
Jennifer had just taken a bite of her meatloaf, and she almost choked at the acid taste. Foolproof, eh? At that moment, she also realized that at 2 AM in the morning, salt and pepper jars looked very similar. She was stuck between laughing and crying. Trying not to make it obvious, Jennifer tried to look away, but it was already too late.
“Uh, are you okay?” the boy asked, his eyebrows furrowed worriedly. Jennifer tried not to look like she was about to throw up, and nodded hurriedly, swallowing. He looked like he wasn’t sure what he should do, and Jennifer couldn’t help but to laugh, but that just made her throat tighten up and she felt her eyes watering. Hurriedly, she motioned towards the water bottle that he was holding and he gave it to her, slightly confused.
She took a long gulp and sighed, embarrassed.
“Uh, sorry about your water bottle,” she said nervously, wondering if she should hand it back to him and eventually deciding against it.
“You were just about to die choking and you’re apologizing for drinking from my water bottle?” he asked, raising his eyebrows. Jennifer couldn’t help giggling at his expression, and soon, they were both laughing hysterically. She sneaked a peek at his face, and noticed a handsomeness that wasn’t there before.
“You want some of my food?” he asked. “I can’t cook, but I consider myself the master of sandwich-making.” She laughed at that and he offered her half of the sandwich he was eating. Gratefully, she shyly accepted and tried it, realizing how hungry she was. Her eyes widened with surprise and she refrained from wolfing it down.
He noticed her response and he grinned. “Good?” She nodded, quickly finishing her half. “Told you,” he said smugly.
“But I think I’m going to have to challenge you on being the sandwich master,” she replied.
“You think you can do better?”
“Prove it,” he retorted, “Tomorrow, you better have a sandwich with you.” He stifled a grin and wagged a finger at her in mock superiority. Jennifer decided to play along and folded her arms snootily, holding back a laugh.
Suddenly, Jennifer noticed the large, antique wall clock in front of her, and more importantly, the time. Which was late.
“Oh my gosh, I need to go find my next class, see you later!” Jennifer groaned, scrambling up and grabbing her bag. She hurried off, her thoughts already distracted by how she’d survive the rest of the day.
After introducing herself for the fifth time that day, Jennifer picked up her backpack, ready to go home. She glanced at the palm of her hand, noticing that the ink she had used to scribble her schedule and bus number was fading. She squinted, trying to read the tiny numbers scrawled near her thumb…
She turned around and looked up, realizing that her hand was still close to her face. She dropped it, sure she looked like an idiot.
“Hey…” she paused. It was the boy from lunch…Jennifer suddenly realized that she didn’t even know this boy’s name. “Yeah?” she asked, trying to cover up her hesitation. He rifled through his backpack and pulled out a textbook.
“You left it at lunch,” he explained, smiling.
“Oh uh…thanks?” Jennifer replied, sounding more like a question than a statement. He turned to leave, swinging his bag leisurely over one shoulder.
“Hey! Hey, wait!” she called at his retreating back. He turned around and looked at her, tilting his head in confusion, which Jennifer found incredibly adorable. “What’s your name?”
“Joshua…I was hoping you would ask,” he said, winking. She suddenly felt butterflies dancing in her stomach and waved before walking off giddily. As she biked home, all she could think about was Joshua. She heard the sound of leaves crunching behind her, and she jerked around so suddenly that she almost fell off her bike, but there was no one there.
She took out her keys from her backpack and unlocked the front door, taking one last look behind her, a tiny part of her hoping that he would be there behind her, smiling cheekily. Her heart sunk, and she went inside, trying to push him out of her mind. She trudged up to her room, dragging her backpack behind her halfheartedly. She pulled out her books and dropped them on the table angrily, feeling frustration well up inside her. A light blue note fluttered out and she paused, her heart racing.
Hey Jennifer, the note was scrawled in a thick black marker, Did you guess who I am? Check out page 221 :). Jennifer quickly flipped the pages, scanning for another note. A small smile crossed her face when she saw the messy handwriting again, and she read it eagerly. I see you’ve found my note. She found herself nodding unconsciously, then continued. Well why don’t you start from the beginning and go in order? She could practically hear his teasing voice in her head as she shakily turned back to the first page.
I see you’re back, the marker scribbled crookedly, I missed you. And so did your textbook. Do you remember what page we’re reading for homework? Jennifer felt like hitting her head on her desk. He knew that she hadn’t been paying attention. She flipped the page exasperatedly, and she found a note lying on the page.
Just teasing. How do you do anything if you forget everything? Hope you don’t forget my phone number. At the bottom of the note was his number, the only thing that was written neatly. They may have been just seven little digits, but it made the butterflies in her stomach go back to dancing.
Maybe this new high school wouldn’t be such a bummer after all.