The day I first spoke to her was a dull Thursday morning, no sun in the sky and a biting cold in the air. Groups of students flocked to xx Secondary School (yes, I did as you asked Dr. Urie and did not include area names, for the purpose of your study), their hands stuffed deep into their coat pockets to protect them from the growing frost. I remember I was tagging along after Sam and his crew, which is what I did every morning. I didn't really care for Sam's gang, but Sam himself was an okay guy. It was obvious I didn't find making friends easy, nor did I care much that I didn't have any, but Sam took me under his wing anyway. So Thursday morning began as usual, History in Mr. Balbricken's room. I sat behind Sam, Joey and Michael, and got out my history textbook. I never noticed girls much, except if one actually spoke to me. I remember a couple of weeks before then I had been shopping in town with my brother, and a group of girls from school were there. I had being buying ice-cream in the sweet shop, when they all started giggling. I remember wondering why girls giggled so much. After I learned their names were Alice, Megan, Camilla, Rebecca and Sophia. Alice, the tall girl with flowing golden hair, told me I was 'actually quite cute'. I went as red as the cherry on my ice-cream and ran out of the shop, and yes, the girls were still giggling. Sam told me Alice was the prettiest girl in the class, and I was dead lucky. I didn't feel lucky, I just felt embarrassed. That morning, Alice and her friends were chatting animatedly at the table next to mine. I started to notice them looking at me a lot, and giggling. I blushed, which caused more giggling.
"Tom, will you go out with Alice?" one of the girls asked. The girls all squealed, and Alice told her friend to stop, but she had a smile on her face. I found it odd that although they asked me a question they didn't wait to hear for an answer.
"Good man, Tom!"
"Ada boy, Tommo" All the lads were slapping me on the back, like they were somehow congratulating me on a conquest. I shooed them away, glancing over at Alice. She really was pretty.
Class started and Mr. Balbricken began talking about the Renaissance, which we had been doing for the last while. I caught one of Alice's friend staring at me, but instead of immediately flushing red, she smiled. I had seen her a couple of times, just with Alice. She was Alice's third closest friend going by the classroom talk, and if the talk was right, her name was... Sorry, I forgot. No names that could identify the story, right?
Anyway, Mr. Balbricken told us that he was going to split us up into pairs for project work. All the girls were to pick a boy's name out of a hat, determining her partner. Megan was first. She reached into the bowler hat Mr. Balbricken kept on his shelf, and pulled out a little piece of paper. She unfolded it and her face fell.
"Herman Brewer" she announced miserably, receiving many sympathetic (although relieved) glances from her friends. I didn't get it. Herman was by far the brightest guy in our class, excelling in every subject he did. Yes, he had tape to hold his glasses together, and there always seemed to be some sort of fungus growing on his left cheek, but you would be guaranteed an A if you got him as your partner. I secretly prayed for my name to be picked by a better Historian than me. Alice was next, who delicately reached into the hat with her smooth, perfectly manicured hand. I wanted that name to be me, even though it surprised me why. She unfolded it, throwing a quick, hopeful-looking glance in my direction. Her smile faltered, and she shrugged.
"Sam" Sam punched his fist in the air in triumph. I didn't really care who got me anymore. The names went on and on, until I finally heard my name.
"Tom Redding" It was the girl who smiled at me earlier. She was smiling again now, making her way over to me. Alice looked annoyed with this pairing, and I could see her trying to persuade Mr. Balbricken to let us choose our own partners. He only waved her off though. Everyone got up from their seats to go join their partners.
"Hi, Tom" It was the first time I'd really heard a girl my age say my name. It sounded weird coming out of her mouth. She pronounced it like 'tum', which reminded me of my mother's conversations with my two-year-old brother. 'Here comes the spoon! Nice foody in your tum-tum!'
"Hi" She sat down next to me and opened her notepad. "Have you any ideas about who we could do the project on? I think we should do something about Shakespeare. Everyone here is going to do the typical artist thing, but a lot of people don't know the Renaissance was about writers and scientists too" Suddenly, I figured out why her voice sounded so different. "Are you from England?"
She looked surprised.
"Tom, I've been in your class for three years now. Didn't you know?"
I didn't have the courage to tell her I really didn't notice her until then.
"Okay, I think Shakespeare is good"
"Cool. But you can say if you don't like it, I won't hate you" She lowered her voice a little. "Actually Tom, I don't hate you at all. Just don't tell Alice or she might use those killer nails on me"
I laughed. And that is the first conversation I had with her.