O N E
First Day of My Life
"I'm glad I didn't die before I met you."
Eyes forward and lips tight, I walk hastily through the school halls trying my best to avoid contact with anyone else. I really don't want to speak or stop to listen to anyone else speak to me, and I really don't want to be late either. I have just under one minute. But my first class is right around the corner, so I decide to take a quick sip at the nearby water fountain. Behind me, a voice comes.
"Jesse," I hear my best friend say.
Nathan Vega is lanky and longhaired and puts a lot of effort into looking as if he puts no effort whatsoever into the way he dresses. Today he is wearing an old looking Joy Division t-shirt under a slightly torn flannel. His jeans are ripped up at the kneecaps and his Chucks are tagged with random song lyrics.
"You're a walking hipster tragedy, Nate," I say to him as I wipe my chin.
Nate grins. "Very rad observation, broseph," he tells me. "But you gotta let the kid show his true colors, man. And my true colors just so happen to be the shitty and washed out hues of thrift store clothing. What can I say. I'm an indie kid."
I laugh at him and then he asks me if I've got Daniels for Algebra II. I nod and he snakes an arm around my shoulders and we walk to class.
"Man, that's awesome," he says to me, his grin never fading. "Miles is in there too."
I give Nate a small smile. When we enter the room together, our friend Miles spots us and urges us to take the two seats beside him.
"Of course, he had to be punctual," Nate says to me as we sit down. "Miles here was the first one to come into this class. Didn't even come out for our daily Devendra dosage on my baby boombox."
"Nobody cares, you dirty hippie," Miles says bleakly.
A light laugh escapes my lips. I feel a little happier than usual for once, now that I'm with my friends. I really did miss them. I'm guessing they've missed me too. And so I smile at them and they smile at me, and it's like things are back to normal. It feels good, even though it only lasts for a second.
Things go bad again when a girl with long light brown hair and big shining eyes walks into the room. I can feel my heart sinking. I watch her take the last seat up front and I desperately begin to wish I were the badly dressed guy sitting next to her.
Class starts in a couple seconds. I still don't take my eyes off of her.
Mr. Daniels introduces himself and talks to us about the upcoming material, but I don't listen to a word he says. In the endless minutes I let slip by I am defiantly ignoring my teacher and wasting my time just thinking of Lillian Cortez, the girl who broke my heart over the summer.
I was hers and she was mine. Past tense. The real problem at hand here is that we are a past tense kind of thing, even when I so hopelessly want it differently. Her breaking up with me was the cherry on top of the crappiest year of my life and I don't know whether to hate her or miss her.
I know I want to kiss her. I want to march up those three rows and look into her big, beautiful brown eyes and tell her I'll do anything to make her stay. But the bell rings and she's the first one rushing to the door.
It's not like I had the balls to do it anyway.
"Have a good first day, guys," I hear Mr. Daniels say. "I'll get you your textbooks tomorrow."
Everyone is hurrying out, but my friends and I are in no rush. We grab our stuff lazily and are one of the last to walk into the hallway.
"We've got English," Miles tells me. "What do you have?"
I take a glance at my schedule card and sigh. "Bio. I should've just taken it last year. God, I'll be stuck with freshmen."
They smile at me."Good luck, man," Nate says. "We love you, we'll meet you at the circle."
Nate and Miles continue down the hall while I go up the stairs to the science floor. When I get there, I see a girl who looks real anxious, like she doesn't know where she is. She's probably new.
She sees me too. Since I'm the one closest to where she's standing, she hurries over to me. She looks kind of nervous and is probably ready to ask me for some directions but then her eyes fall upon my shirt and her head tilts slightly to the side, the most genuine, eye crinkling smile erupting across her face.
"Oh man, that's a really nice shirt," she tells me.
I look down. I'm wearing an old Sonic Youth t-shirt. I look at hers, and it's the same one. Except hers is cropped and I can see her belly button.
"Yeah, I know. Points for the both of us." I give her a smile, but it doesn't come close to being as good as hers.
To me she's like an Asian Daisy Lowe, except shorter and even cuter. Her outfit is the Sonic Youth crop top, jean shorts, and black Doc Martens. I allow myself one second to subtly admire her tanned and toned legs, but then I meet her eyes. They are dark and beautiful and it takes me a while to realize she is not wearing makeup. I have come to see that most girls like to put makeup on their faces and spend lots of time worrying about what they look like, but to me she looks completely natural. Like she doesn't spend a second being hung over about stuff like that.
She gives me that grin again, and seeing it a second time makes my cheeks warmer. She asks for my name and so I tell her and then attempt yet another smile, but again she does it better than me, flashing me a third one. She tells me her name is Charlie and that she's looking for her Trig class.
"Uh, what's the room number?"
"211. The teacher is, uh, Daniels."
"Well, you're on the third floor," I tell her. "So all the room numbers are in three hundreds. Your class is on the second floor right below, where the rooms are in two hundreds."
Her eyes widen and it's the cutest thing I've ever seen. Her lips form a tiny O. "Oh man, is that like a universal thing?"
"It's just here. It's different in France, I think. I don't really know, I'm sorry."
She smiles again and laughs and then apologizes for not knowing such an obvious thing. I tell her it's no big deal and she thanks me. I then tell her that I've just had Daniels for Algebra II and that his room is the one closest to the stairs, and in no time she's gone and I'm just left with the image of her smile and the sound of her pleasant voice in my head.
I take one step into class and I already miss it.