Chapter 6

"-first fainted in art class, she came to for a few seconds then passed out again. I had to help her along but she seemed to be able to-hey look!"

This time my back isn't aching from the hardness of the ground. Instead I'm in a soft…bed? No, no. This must be the nurse's office. I am squinting from the glow of the light. Why is it so bright?

"Jasmine, how're you feeling?"

Angela? I almost call out her name but catch myself just in time.

I watch her wheel herself over to me. The tips of her numerous red curls settle on my arm as she peers down at me with concern. I get a warm feeling from within. A happy, tingling feeling. But Angela is overweight and rides in a wheelchair…and…and…

she does…did… not.

The warm feeling passes.

"Are you okay now?" Asks Angela anxiously.

I nod my head silently and sit up. Then I see the curly haired boy shuffle over. …Brandon was it?

"Hey." He says shyly. "You passed out in the middle of art, so I brought you here. I hope…you don't mind." He finishes awkwardly, running a finger through his hair.

His eyes. His eyes his eyes his eyes.

I cant help but smile at those beautiful shades of blue.

He grins back.

I swing my legs to the ground and begin to get up, Brandon grips my arm to steady me but I gently push him away, signaling that I'm okay.

Angela is eyeing me with apprehension.

"Are you sure you're alright? You don't need me to call your parents or anything?"

I shake my head, a little too fiercely. Any more wrinkles and Dad's skin will surely fall off.

I chuckle a little at the thought of that.

Brandon gives me an inquisitive look.

I quickly turn the chuckle into a cough.

"Well…if you're sure you're okay, then I suppose you may return to class. I'm really not so good at this." Angela admits, shaking her head, "Nurse Maria was out sick today so she asked me to take over. What period is it now?"

"It's fourth." Brandon replies, checking his watch. "I have lunch now."

I take the schedule out from my pocket:

4 – Lunch – Caf.

"Do you?" Brandon asks…does he really care?

I nod.

"Well then, off you go." Angela said brightly, then her face is serious again.

"But Jasmine, if you ever need to talk or hang out or anything, just knock on my office. It's the room next to this one. Okay?"

I stare at her for a little too long.

Angela laughs.

"Or, I can just be a regular teacher and stay out of your life."

I smile at this. Brandon too.

The hallway is cool and quiet. Brandon and I walk in silence, our footsteps bouncing off the walls. Or are they reverberating? That's a pretty word. Reverberating.

"Hey…" Brandon interrupts my thought.

I look up at him.

He's staring at me, those sapphire eyes waiting, searching …almost begging me to say something.

No I can't, I tell him with my eyes. I can't I can't I can't. You don't understand. This is what keeps me going. This is my protection. If I open my mouth, if I just utter one word, I will be destroyed. Crushed. Wiped out. Forever.

His eyes fall as they realize I won't be speaking.

I apologize with my eyes.

"So um," Brandon clears his throat, "you're really not gonna say anything?"

I shake my head, my eyes fixed on the floor.

"Well, I would ask why, but I have a feeling you won't exactly tell me."

I look up. His eyes are twinkling with amusement.

Relieved, I smile and roll my eyes.

"Oooh! What was that? Do I see…eye rolling?!" Brandon's voice rises dramatically. "A new means of communication?! Could this really be?"

This time I giggle. Then I immediately stifle myself with my hand, horrified.

"It's okay." Brandon pats my back, still with that overdramatic air. But his face is serious now.

"One of these days you're gonna start talking, and you'll be speaking those first words to me."

My eyes say don't count on it.

Brandon lets out a maniacal laugh. "Oh we'll see my friend. We'll see." He says smugly.

My heart gives an extra thump.

His friend?

Was I his friend? Or did that word just come with the phrase?

We descend down the stairs into the cafeteria, where the smell of cheese meets my nostrils.