A week and a bit later I’m sat in study hall in school bored out of my mind. Finals are next week but I don’t need to study, I already know it all. I don’t find school difficult, neither does Cam really, but he messes around with his friends and that’s what brings his grades down. I think he also just can’t be bothered to do his homework sometimes and he thinks always doing it would not be good for his bad-boy reputation. Cam was talking to one of his mates on the phone last night before dinner, and as I was stirring the pasta for dad, I listened in on his conversation about Harry. Apparently he lost a lot of blood when his nose broke which didn’t help his faint headedness and concussion, and added a few days to his absence from school. I know he had to have his nose reset because he was the subject of all conversation at school, and Cam said he’d be wearing a plaster for about a month. He wouldn’t be able to play sports, nor actively study, and wouldn’t be taking his midterms with the rest of us. I wasn’t expecting a reply but sent him a text anyway, keeping my phone hidden from the maths teacher, the worst study hall advisor, the teacher who’s always reading to jump down your throat.
You better believe there will be times in your life when you’ll be feeling like a stumbling fool. So take it from me: you’ll learn more from your accident than anything that you could ever learn at school.
I was right; I didn’t get a reply.
The following day I arrive late to school and am hurrying up the stairs to my locker when I see someone stood in front of it. I see his casual stance, his denim jeans hanging just slightly below his waist, his curly hair outlined by the light coming in from the window at the other end of the hall. If my eyes aren’t playing tricks on me, he’s just slipped a piece of paper into one of the lockers, one that looks like it could be mine. He turns to face the other wall and opens his own locker. I understand why he might have purposely been late. If I were him, I surely wouldn’t want to be crowded around on my return to school. “Hey you,” I say. He lifts his head up and turns to face me, I’ve gotten closer now, and I see the big white plaster covering his nose and the long pieces of medical tape crossing his cheeks, keeping the bandage in place. I can’t help but just stand there, staring at him. Olivia swears he looks just like Harry Styles, the singer, but not as hot. I think he looks nothing like him. I think he just looks like, well, I think he just looks like himself. He doesn’t reply and I’m not sure what to make of the silence, so I open my locker and watch as a piece of paper flutters down out of it. It was my locker after all. I bend to pick it up and feel the heat of his body as he steps closer to me. He leans against the locker next to mine and my heart beat speeds up as I open the folded piece of paper. Scrawled across it in his slanted, unusually beautiful and legible writing for a boy, he’s written the simplest explanation. ‘Concussion. Stop texting me. Too tempting to read. – Aspiring something or another.’ That explains why I didn’t get a reply. My lips break into a smile and he slips another piece of paper into the palm of my hand. Our hands touch for a fleeting moment as the paper goes from his hands to mine, and I feel a spark running through my body at his touch. His touch excites some circuit inside of me and slows down my heartbeat, controlling it. I open up this paper and see two words, ‘Billy Joel.’ I look at him, blown away, “How did you know?” I ask him. He laughs, “I’ll tell you this, it wasn’t easy. Do you know how frustrated my mom got when I had her search the quote again and again?” I tilt my head as I look at him, “Why do always have to know?” He looks at me with an innocent look on his face, a look that could melt butter or make puppies follow him around the world. “I want to know more about you, that’s why,” he turns away, shoving books into his locker and trying to get the long end of his backpack to not hang out. He looks at me expectantly. “Ready for English?” he asks, tilting an imaginary hat in my direction. “Always,” I say in what I would call a flirty voice, “Except I have history.” The look on his face makes me burst out laughing. “God dammit,” he shouts, slamming his fist into a random locker, “Just when I thought I could go to our only class together and not pay attention because I’m just too hypnotized by your mesmerizing beauty.” I stop dead in my tracks. He just called me beautiful. Me, Xyla. I open my mouth to say something, but we suddenly hear loud voices coming closer and a bell rings loudly. We both cover our ears at the same time, surprised. We’ve missed the rest of first period and now we really do have English. I blush as Olivia comes up to me and hands me a hot chocolate. “I hope its still warm, babe,” she says, but I don’t answer her because I’m too preoccupied looking back at Harry, who is now surrounded by his friends and they are all talking about his nose. He catches my eye and gives me a faint smile, and I follow Olivia down to class. The hot chocolate is cold but I don’t let her know, “Thanks for the drink,” I say as we push open the heavy door and hurry down the stairs.
When I get into the classroom I realize I need the bathroom, and quickly leave the room after asking the teacher for permission. I see Harry walk past me to his seat, but he doesn’t see me looking. Once in the lady’s room I stare at myself in the mirror. I clearly don’t see what Harry sees. I frown. When I get back to the classroom and open up my laptop I see a note lying on the keyboard. I look around to see if anyone noticed it, and then slip it into my pencil case. I glance up and see Harry giving me a knowing look. He has nothing out in front of him because all he is allowed to do is listen.
I don’t open the note until lunchtime when I’m alone at the lockers, waiting for Olivia to join me from her French class. The note is another quote from a poem, ‘Knowledge comes, but Wisdom lingers.’ Tennyson.
Friday morning I’m much too excited. I’m going to Xyphalia tonight. Whilst everyone else in my class crams for the exams that start on Tuesday, I’m going to be living it up back home. Cam will join us the day after but had already promised to take Kaiya out for her birthday. I see her in the hallway during break and wish her a happy birthday. She’s in the year above now, she skipped a grade this year, but her and Cam have been crushing on each other for so long that the grade difference didn’t matter to either of them. They still aren’t official, though, which I don’t quite understand. Sitting in the last class of the day, I think about my own relationships, Harry and I in particular. I’m not sure what to call the stage we’re at and am not even certain if he feels the same way about me as I do about him.
As soon as class finishes I hurry up to my locker, artfully avoiding Olivia by pretending the noise around me drowns out the sound of hers. I can’t take her questions about this weekend. I see Cam down by the ‘S’ lockers, the surname he took when he came here, and I go over to the ‘M’s. My happiness is clear in the smile on my face and Cam squeezes my arm as he passes by, whispering in my ear, “Text me.” I will do later.