"We all want to fall in love. Why? Because that experience makes us feel completely alive. Where every sense is heightened, every emotion is magnified, our everyday reality is shattered and we are flying into the heavens. It may only last a moment, an hour, an afternoon. But that doesn't diminish its value. Because we are left with memories that we treasure for the rest of our lives."
To be honest, the first time I met him I never thought anything of it. He was just another stranger that I saw day after day in the hallway without ever really seeing him. At that point in time I was still naïve in love: I had never dated, never kissed a boy, and was still dream-crazy about my first relationship. Going into my senior year as a virgin in love and life, I was impatiently waiting for my fairy tale - what I found instead was something more and something less…
Mr. Netermyer was a strange man. I knew this, the class knew this, but there were some days when even he could take his quirkiness to new levels. Having science the second hour of the day was already torture enough, but the fact that my teacher was wearing coke-bottle glasses (which he didn't even need) and leather suspenders really added to my hatred.
Walking up and down the aisles, running his fingers constantly up and down the suspenders I found that I wasn't even paying attention to the upcoming test. Instead I was caught up in the silent conversation between two varsity football players. They were making ridiculous jesters whenever they thought Mr. Netermyer wasn't watching. Rolling my eyes I looked down at my notebook feeling the heaviness on my eyelids and the sudden desperation to leave. Being the only senior in a junior chemistry class was exhausting.
"Okay gang?" It was another of his annoying quirks to refer to the class as 'gang.' There was a collective grunt from a few of the kids around me and he seemed to be satisfied with that. Turning to look at the clock, he scratched his head before turning back to us. "Well, we covered everything that needed to be said about the Unit One test next Tuesday. You can have the rest of the hour to listen to music or talk to you friends – that is, as long as it remains an acceptable volume."
An acceptable volume was the equivalent of shouting to most of the kids in the room. This was the point of class I hated most – I had no friends in the class and all I could do for the next twenty or so minutes was sit and stare at all the little groups that formed. I was honestly jealous and felt like a loser just sitting there.
"So did you hear about Marissa and Jesse?" The voice belonged to Morgan Sardania, one of the most well informed in the school. She seemed to have a hand in every important matter and the room went noticeably silent when she spoke. The annoying part was that Morgan seemed more than aware of her ability to capture a room's attention; she felt that it made her superior to everyone else.
"I heard something about they were fighting at that party last weekend." One of the girls near the door called out. Morgan smirked at her a little.
"Well, that did happen," She exclaimed, her eyes lighting up with satisfaction. "But from what I heard there was another girl involved."
The group of what would be considered 'preps' began to laugh, a few of the guys giving themselves high fives while exclaimed that this Jesse was "the man." Even though I felt that petty stories of high school couples were uninteresting, I found that I couldn't stop listening to Morgan. She had a magnetic personality pulling you back to her.
"Well, Marissa was working a later shift that night so she showed up a few hours after Jesse had arrived. She asked around for him and someone told her that he and Jana Laurence had gone upstairs some time before. I'm guessing they were still together because the next thing everyone heard was Marissa screaming at Jesse that she was sick and tired of finding him with other girls."
"So, this has happened before?" The same girl from before asked and I realized that it was Anna, one of the yearbook staff I'd met the other day.
"More than a few from what I've heard." Morgan said with a smile. "I heard that Mariah has been with him too."
"Zanick?" One of the guys asked. Morgan nodded. "Nice!"
"She should break up with him." I said it before I realized that it came out of my mouth. Twenty pairs of heads swiveled toward me and I felt my face heat up. Morgan gave me a calculated stair before shrugging.
"She should, but she won't. They are actually a really good couple when she keeps him under her reigns." She pushed a strand of her brown hair away from her face.
"It's still not worth it." I responded. Mike, one of the football players laughed.
"It happens all the time in high school, or don't you know that?" I chose not to respond and felt, rather than heard, his group of friends snickering at me. I quickly put my headphones in my ear, feeling awkward and embarrassed that I'd even spoken out. I heard the mumbling of my classmates under the steady beat of my music but kept my head down and prayed the bell would ring quickly.
"Hey Alex!" I turned at the sound of my name, staring in surprise as Morgan ran after me slipping her backpack on. "Wait up!"
She caught up to me and smiled as we began to weave through the cramped hallways. "Sorry, I've never really noticed you in the class before."
"I don't really put myself out there seeing as I'm older than everyone." I answered with a shrug.
"I guess." She responded awkwardly. "So – how come you're taking Chemistry in your senior year?"
"I didn't get the best grades last year," I told her with a laugh, I had slacked the last few months and ended up passing with a D. "My mom got angry and made me retake the entire year rather than the last semester."
"Oh, wow, that sucks." Morgan told me before pausing. "I'm going down this hallway to the math wing, but I'll catch up with you later. What lunch do you have?"
"Oh, shoot, I have fourth this semester, but I'm actually thinking of changing my schedule. I'll let you know how it goes!" She gave me a smile and waved good-bye leaving me to stare after her in confusion.
"Why was Morgan talking to you?" Lucas Taylor asked me after he had grabbed my bag. I smacked his hand away and laughed.
"I don't know, why? You know her?" He gave me a long look before sighing.
"How do you not know some of these people?"
"It's not like I actually pay attention to the social hierarchy here." I told him avoiding his fist when it came for me.
"You're not an outcast you loser, but you refuse to do anything with anyone except for me and you cousin." We stopped at his locker and I put my chemistry in it. Someone hit my shoulder sharply and my bag fell off the arm I was holding it as I made my way to the floor.
"Ouch, damnit." I swore, rubbing my elbow as I reached for the contents in my bag that had spilled into the hallway. I had already given up on the pencils that were being kicked unknowingly by students farther away from my rich.
"Shit," a deep voice said, and I heard an angry sigh as my attacker crouched down to help me. Putting a notebook that Lucas handed me into my bag, I found I could actually smell him. He smelt like water, deodorant, and something distinctly male. Looking up I found myself staring at his neck as he reached across the space in front of me for a textbook. His blonde hair was damp and was cut to just above his shoulders. A silver earring was visible from my point of view and the plain white shirt he was wearing allowed me to see the ripple of his shoulder muscles as he moved.
I felt my heart speed up before I even realized what happened. Shaking my head to clear my thoughts I stood up quickly as I accepted my books from both boys. Turning back towards Lucas' locker I heard the boy mutter a sorry and walk away. As inconspicuously as I thought possible, I watched him disappear into thinning crowd of students going to class. His shoulders were broad and led to a narrow waist; there was no reason to keep staring and yet I couldn't tear my eyes away.
"I think we have discovered your inner pervert, Alex." Lucas whispered in my ear and I jumped. Blushing, I pointlessly shuffled the books on the top shelf of his locker before shutting it.
"I don't know what you're talking about." I responded, feigning innocence but avoiding his eyes at the same time. "I was just trying to figure out who he was."
"So are you telling me if Rodger Edgin's had hit you today you would have blushed as badly as you just did?" He asked me daringly, his eyes lighting up with a sudden challenge. I shuddered and shook my head like crazy. Rodger still picked his nose and wiped its contents under desks.
"I wouldn't let him in a five foot radius of me."
Lucas turned into the doorway of his class and smirked. "Maybe you should figure out just who that guy was, you never know, he could be your future lover."
"Oh shut up, Lucas, don't be a jerk." I walked off, speeding up after the sound of the bell filled the hall. For a moment I paused and looked back down the hallway, hoping to catch a glance of a broad shouldered stranger who had run into me. With expected disappointment I hurried off to my class, all the while replaying those few seconds with him in my head.
That was unknowingly my first meeting with Jesse Carter and it was the start of an unforgettable senior year…