Ryan was in love with Jessie. With a girl as beautiful as her, how could you not be?
He had been staring at her for at least ten minutes. Her slender legs. Her dark, silky flowing hair. The way she tapped her pencil on the textbook to a beat unheard. The slight movement of her breasts with each inhale. The little tilt she does with her head when she’s intent on listening.
Her latest habit, Ryan noticed, was moving her lips as she read. He had started to play a game where he tried deciphering what she was reading by watching her mouth out the words. Today, Ryan had made out almost every word and, considering the addition of the pencil tapping, concluded that she was bored.
Ryan smiled, coveting the fact that he, and he alone, knew how she felt at this very moment.
Jessie stopped reading and looked over at him. Ryan stared back into her deep, blue eyes.
The shrill voice brought him back to reality.
“Yes…Mrs…. Boling?” he said as he turned his attention back to the front. Everybody was staring at him.
Mrs. Boling glared down at him through her glasses. “I suggest you stop goggling at Ms. Hearst and start reading your assignment. You can spend the rest of your day dreaming your fantasies, but not in my class.” Laughter broke out through the room.
“Of course, Mrs. Boling. Right away,” Ryan nodded, red faced. He gave a glance at Jessie, who was still staring at him. She smiled and turned back around.
# # #
When class ended, Ryan made a beeline for his locker, avoiding the fluttering eyes half the class was giving him on his way out. He wondered how long Mrs. Boling had been shouting at him.
Ryan wasn’t one of the popular kids in high-school. He was the kid you’d find staying up late to study, creating extra homework for the practice of it, and cracking jokes about molecules. Highschool was just a stepping stone to college.
But Jessie’s smile had changed that feeling today. That smile had given him the hope that maybe there was more to high school than just books and dreams.
Ryan shut his locker and headed out to the school’s parking lot.
As he stepped out the door, the cool winter breeze hit him hard in the face. There was an icier chill in the air than yesterday. He pausde to zip up his coat. He fumbled with the zipper trying to get it to slide in.
“Hey, man, you need some help?”
looked up to see Cal leaning on his car, wearing a familiar smirk. Cal’s drones, Steve and Jake, were on the hood sharing a smoke.
Ryan shook his head, “No, I’m good. I’ve just got this string in the way here…” he looked back down at the zipper, tugging hard at its end.
“Doesn’t look like your good,” Jake chuckled.
Ryan felt his face start to redden. He gave up on the zipper and thrust his hands deep into his pockets to revive them from the cold. He glanced back up at the guys. Cal was whispering something to the drones. Ryan took the moment to walk away. He had never quite understood guys like Cal. Somehow they had become High-School gods, everything and everyone always bending to their desires. Ryan had a friend back two years ago that succumbed to their glamour by completing all of their assignments. His payment was only that he would not be terrorized by frequent locker stuffings and toilet bowl kissings.
By the time Ryan reached Old Betty, his Ford pickup with pristine rust and coveted duct tape repairs, he couldn’t feel his hands or feet. He fired up the truck and waited on the heater to kick in.
A fist pounding on the passenger window jolted Ryan from his seat. He gave a quick look to see Cal standing outside the truck. Ryan slid over and started on the rolling window.
“Do you mind if I just get in?” Cal shouted over the engine. Ryan let out a sigh, who knows what he might be up to. He wanted to say no, but the softness in him wouldn’t allow it. He popped open the door.
“Swhh, it is getting cold out there,” Cal said as he pulled himself into the seat. He turned to Ryan, “You sure took off pretty quickly.”
Ryan shrugged. “You did just say it’s pretty cold out there.”
Cal raised his eyebrows. “Touché.” He rubbed his hands together and focused back on Ryan. “I heard you gotta thing for Jessie?”
Ryan’s face started to return to the red. Everyone in the school new Jessie was Cal’s girl. Ryan looked out the window.
Cal chuckled, “Hey, I’m not here to patronize you on the issue. In fact, to be honest, Jessie and I have had a bit of a rough patch lately.”
Cal was having a rough patch with Jessie? Ryan was startled by the news, but even more taken aback by the fact that Cal was telling him this. “Sorry to hear that,” Ryan murmured.
“Yeah,” Cal shook his head, “we decided we’d try going on our own separate ways about a week ago. We’re still friends and everything, but the love part is over, you know?”
Ryan nodded. What does this guy know about love?
“So, I was thinking that maybe you would like to meet Jessie, spend some time with her. Especially after hearing about Mrs. Boling’s class today,” Ryan laughed.
Ryan sat up at hearing this. It would be great to get to talk to her, but why was Cal doing this?
“Why are you asking me this?” Ryan questioned. He shook his head, “Why are you even talking to me?”
Cal pushed his lips together and looked out at the parking lot. “I don’t really know. For some reason, I just felt like you’d be fit for her. While she may not want me, I still want the best for her. Someone as beautiful as her deserves someone good at her side. Somebody to be there for her and really…” he pause, searching for the word, “…really be a part of her…Besides, it was her that told me about Mrs. Boling’s class. With a smile I might add.”
Ryan was surprised by the words from Cal’s mouth. She told him?
Cal sighed. “Well, if you’re interested and as long as this cold doesn’t push out our plans, me and the gang are meeting up at Silver Lake this evening, ‘bout eight. We park a couple miles in to the park and hike out to our spot. Jessie will be there, I’m sure of it. It’s always a good time.” He smiled and pushed the door open. “Hope you’ll come,” he shouted as he dashed off to his car.