Merrin and Marcus

"The way he dresses, he could be a model. He pulls off our hideous school uniform so well. Sleeves rolled up, tie half undone. Pant hems dragging on the floor and shoes scuffed. Hair, styled, yet messy. Looking scruffy, but in a gallant, knightly kind of way.
Mr Popular.
But, when I passed him in the hall, our eyes connected for just a tiny second. And in that one, tiny second, I saw it all."

I blend in. Some might call me a 'wall-flower.' I watch others, as they are oblivious to me. There is only one person that I wish would notice me. Him. We are together, in a way, but, . . . apart.
And when he does notice me, I'm NOT ready for it.

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5. Entry 25

Entry 25

It started pouring at two a.m. this morning, and it hasn’t stopped since.

I rushed across the grass quad with an armful of history textbooks, aiming for the library. I dumped them in the returns box and wandered down the back where the senior’s tables were. There was at least one person at each table, work spread out, writing away. This period was the period everyone had frees, me included. I thumped my bag on a table, and the person who was studying looked up.

“Sorry,” I said quietly, brushing my wet hair out of my face. “This rain is crazy, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, it is.”

Husky voice. I looked up, trying to wipe the mortified look from my face.

It was him.

He was sitting there, with his Biology book out, studying. His hair was stuck to his forehead because of the rain. His shirt was most definitely see-through, and his chest was a much better view than his back. And best of all, he had a smile on his face, and his green eyes were shining with a happy light.

He also had a black eye.

I could feel my eyes, as wide as dinner plates, staring at him. He cleared his throat and I blushed, looking away. I dug in the front pocket of my bag, pulling out a little jar of ointment. I pushed across the table to him. “Put some of this on your eye. It’ll help.”

He picked it up and looked at it curiously. Unscrewed the lid and took a sniff. Wrinkled his nose. “What is it?” he asked.

“I call it ‘bruise salve’. It’s a combination of herbs that reduce swelling and take away the pain. My brothers use it all the time. They’re boxers.”

“Wow, really?” He scooped out a little bit on the tip of his finger and rubbed it into his bruise.

“More than that!” I admonished him. So he put some more on.

“Thanks.”

“You’re welcome.” I smiled hesitantly.

“So how many brothers do you have?” he asked, unexpectedly.

“Three,” I said, smiling. “I’m the youngest. I think sometimes my dad forgets he has a daughter.”

He frowned. “What about your mum?”

I looked at him. “I don’t have one. She died a long time ago.”

“Oh.”

He didn’t say ‘I’m sorry’ like most people. I pushed my bag to the floor and sat down. I motioned to the Biology workbook he had out. “You can borrow my notes if you want. I noticed you’ve missed a bit of Bio.”

He smiled. “Thanks. I think that’d be better than reading this drivel.” He shut the textbook with a dull thud.

“So how come you’ve been missing so much class?”

He sighed and put down his pen, smile disappearing. “There’s no point. What’s the point?”

I raised my eyebrows in surprise. This so wasn’t him. “To learn.”

“What’s the point in learning if nobody else cares?”

“Who doesn’t care?”

“Let me put in this way. I’ve missed over half of my classes in the past month. My parents were supposed to come in for a parent-teacher meeting, but they haven’t yet. That was a week and a half ago.” He curled his lip in an ugly, feral way. What happened to the cheerful person that sat here just a second ago?

I frowned. “Maybe they’re busy?”

“They’re always busy. But only with their own problems.”

“What do you mean?”

He started talking, and it all came out in a tide of words, a rush; a huge flood. “My parents are getting divorced. It’s taking longer than it should because they say they hate each other so much, and they won’t even talk to one another. They’re forcing me to pick a side, and if I don’t, they’re going to go to court to fight it out. So, if they care so much about me, why do they never talk to me? Ask me stuff? Why don’t they come in and do this meeting if they care, if they love me so much?”

I considered what he said, then replied. “You know, you’re lucky.”

He opened his mouth to spit back and angry retort, his green eyes sparkling with unshed tears. I held up my hand to stop him.

“In some twisted, convoluted way, your parents still care about you. If they’re going to go to court to fight over you, they obviously both love you. A lot. When I was little, my brothers were already winning trophies and medals for wrestling and boxing, and every weekend I was dragged off to a tournament somewhere. I had to sit and do my homework in the grandstands, surrounded by all these cheering people. I felt like Dad had forgotten about me. But now that my brothers have moved out, he’s remembered that I’m here. He never stopped loving me; he just lost sight of me.”

He looked at the desk. Sniffed. Ran a hand through his hair.

“Your parents haven’t forgotten about you. They’ve just lost sight of you. And yes, ‘forgotten’ and ‘lost sight’ are different.  When this is all over, your parents will remember you’re there. They never stopped considering you. Loving you.”

He looked up at me; face open and childlike, yearning. “Y’reckon?”

I nodded. “Yeah, I reckon. So why let your parents intrude on your school life? Why let then interfere with your studies and your friends?”

He nodded slowly, getting faster until his hair was flying all over the place. Then he stopped. “Yeah. You’re right. There’s no point in acting like this. It’s my school life.” He grinned at me and I smiled back.

“Thank you, Merrin,” he said.

“You’re welcome. Marcus.”

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