As the bell rang Sophia jumped from her seat and ran outside, she stuffed her things in her bag and flung it over her shoulder. She began walking off at a fast pace, she walked down the concrete path toward the flower bed she had passed earlier this morning. She turned the corner and climbed the stairs, one at a time. She slumped down in the corner of the highest stair, she pushed herself up against the wall, thinking that maybe if she pushed hard enough she could become a part of it and no one would know where she was. Tears began to fall from her eyes as she faced the wall, drawing circles with her finger, ‘How could I have replaced him so easily?’
“Sophia!” Calum shouted from the bottom of the stair case, he ran up the stairs and sounded out of breath, “Sophia.” His voice became gentle as he sat next to her. She didn’t look up at him, she didn’t reply, she just kept drawing her circles, around and around, pushing into the wall harder, hoping she could become invisible. “Hey, Sophia.” Calum tried again, still no response. He moved closer to her and put his arms out, wrapping them around her and pulling her close to him, “Sophia,” He said in a quiet voice, “It’s okay Sophia.”
She gripped his shirt in her fists, “No it’s not, it’s not okay.” Her voice was shaky and distraught.
Calum sighed as he held her, he ran his thumb across her face wiping away her tears, and they sat there, not talking, as she cried and he held her. After a few minutes Sophia pulled away from Calum, mascara running down her face, her hair a mess. Calum sighed, “You okay?” Sophia nodded. Calum grabbed out some tissues from his bag and handed them to Sophia, “Here.” Sophia took the tissues and wiped under her eyes, grabbing out a mirror from in her bag which she used while she re did her hair in a high pony tail and re applied her mascara. “Why do you do that?” Calum looked at Sophia, sitting back.
“Do what?” Her voice was still shaky.
“Well,” Said Sophia, “It makes me feel beautiful.”
“But you’d be just as beautiful without it.” Calum sighed.
Sophia blushed, “I guess, it makes me feel more comfortable. I just like wearing it.”
Calum looked at Sophia, “So you do it for yourself?” Sophia looked at Calum puzzled, “You don’t do it to impress other people?” Sophia shook her head, and Calum smiled, “I have an idea.” Calum paused for a moment, “Ring your mum. Ring her and ask if she’ll let you have the rest of the day off. I’ll do the same, and we can go do something.”
Sophia smiled, “Thank you.” She reached into her bag and grabbed out her phone, she dialled her mother’s number, “Hey mum,”
“Yes? Is everything okay?”
“Well actually, I was wondering if I could have the rest of the day off.”
“Well, I kind of freaked out during math,”
“Are you okay?” Sophia’s mum interrupted.
“Yes, it’s okay mum. I just would like to have the rest of the day off.”
“And what do you plan on doing?”
“Well, I was going to chill with Calum.”
“He’s a new guy at school, I think you’d like him.”
There was a pause on the phone for a moment, “I suppose so, but, you have to bring him here first.”
“Okay mum, ring the school please.” Sophia said, “See you soon.” She hung up the phone and smiled at Calum, “Let’s go.” Calum nodded at Sophia and they walked to the office, both of their parents had left messages saying they may be excused. Calum lead Sophia to his car parked just around the corner from the school, it was a simple, well-kept white car.
“Hop in.” Calum said, opening the door for Sophia.
“You drive?” Sophia said, “But you’re in my grade?”
Calum laughed, “I started a year late, I’m 17.”
“Oh, well okay.” Sophia smiled and climbed in the car.
They arrived in Sophia’s driveway and Calum turned off the engine, “Anything I should know?”
“Like what?” Sophia asked.
“Like, is your dad secretly an FBI agent who wants to kill all guys that suggest his daughter should wag?”
Sophia laughed, “Uhm, no. Truth is I don’t know what my dad is. Or really, who he is.”
“Oh, I’m sorry.”
“Nah, it’s okay.” Sophia reassured him, “I have the most amazing mum there is.” Calum nodded and they both climbed out the car, he pressed a button on his key that locked the car. Sophia gestured toward the front door, fumbling through her bag for a key. Sophia pulled out a small golden key and placed it in the lock, she twisted the key and door handle, opening the door to inside her house, “Come in.” Calum followed behind her as she pulled out the key and shut the door, chucking the key back into her bag. Sophia led him to the lounge room where her mother was sat in front of the TV.
Her mum paused the TV and looked toward the doorway, “Sophia, are you okay?”
Sophia nodded, “Mum, this is Calum.”
“Ain’t he a cutie.” Sophia’s mum laughed, “I’m Pauline, nice to meet you.”
Calum nodded, “Pleasure’s mine, ma’am.”
“Ooh how proper of him,” Pauline laughed again, “Well dear, why don’t you’s sit down, is there anything I can get for ya’s?”
Sophia shook her head, Calum did the same. They sat side by side on the couch in front of the paused TV, “I’m sorry about that.” Sophia said in a hushed tone.
“It’s okay.” Calum smiled, “Your mother seems lovely. Just like you said.”
Sophia nodded, “But she’s embarrassing, maybe we should go somewhere else?”
Calum shook his head, “Maybe later, it’d be rude to leave now.”
Sophia slumped back in her chair, “Okay.”
Pauline walked in smiling at the two teens sat on her couch and sat on the recliner beside them, “So, Calum, tell me about yourself.”
He smiled at Pauline, “There’s not much to tell, I moved up here from Perth, I’m in the same grade as your daughter although I’m a year older because I started a year late.” He paused for a moment, “I have my P’s. I’m an honors student, I got dux in both primary school and junior secondary. I live at home with my father and my older sister and younger sister. And well, that’s it.” Sophia smiled up at Calum, ‘I’ve learnt more about him in the past thirty seconds than I have all day.’
“You’re a smart kid eh?” Pauline smirked, “Going to be a challenge for my baby Soph? Excellent!”
Calum looked over at Sophia, ‘Challenge?’ He thought to himself, ‘What does she mean?’
“Mum,” Sophia gave her mother a glance, “I thought we agreed you’d never talk about that.”
Pauline laughed, “You’re too modest dear.” She looked to Calum, “How could I not brag about my daughter being in the top 0.02% of Australia in Mathematics, Science and English?”
Sophia’s cheeks turned bright red and she stood up, “Come on Calum.” She began walking toward the staircase and Calum stood to follow.
“I’m sorry ma’am, I think your daughter’s amazing. That’s really amazing.” With a nod Calum walked off behind Sophia. The staircase went up 12 steps in one direction and 12 in the other. Sophia led Calum down a carpeted hallway, pass a bathroom, and a bedroom. They reached the door at the end of the hall and she opened the door, blocking his view inside, “Promise not to judge me. I’ve only ever brought one other guy in here.” Calum nodded. The door opened to reveal a medium sized bedroom, a queen bed sat in the corner, it was messed with pillows and blankets everywhere. A single teddy sat on the side of the bed against the wall, a wooden bedside table was on the other. Sophia’s desk had a mess of books, artwork, notes and pens covering it, among the occasional picture frame of her and her friends or family. The dresser that sat beside it was neat, holding only perfume, a few candles, a small lamp and some books. Her walls were covered in posters of movies, books, quotes and poetry. On the back of her door hung her medals. The occasional shirt or dress laid on the ground, and a basket was half full of clothing in the corner. Next to her dresser was a couple of pairs of shoes, “I’m sorry about the mess.”
Calum shook his head, “It’s fine, it really tells me a lot about you.”
Sophia smiled, “Like what?”
Calum looked around, “First of all, you roll a lot when you sleep,” he pointed to the bed and smiled, “and also, that you love books,” he walked over to the dresser and picked up a book titled The Great Gatenby by John Marsden “and finally, it tells me that you really love poetry.”
Sophia smiled at him, “You’re right on all accounts.”
He smirked, “I know.” They both laughed, “So Sophia,” He paused as he looked at her, “What was the matter today?”
Sophia shook her head, “Story for another time, okay?”
Calum sighed and nodded, “I suppose. And what was that with your mum? She’s just proud of you. So she should be! That’s amazing.”
Sophia’s cheeks burnt bright red, “I just, I want to be normal, and that’s one of the things that make me different.” Calum looked over at Sophia, not knowing what to say. Sophia spoke first, about one of the poems she had read and loved. And so they sat there and spoke for hours. They laughed and listened to music, Sophia was happy, Calum was happy, and inevitably night fell.
“Today’s been lovely Sophia.” Calum smiled, Sophia nodded, “I’ve got to go now, bye.”
“Bye.” Sophia said, opening the front door for Calum.
“Tell your mum I said thanks for having me when she wakes up, okay?”
Sophia nodded and watched the boy walk away, she watched as he climbed into his car and she watched as he drove down the road and around the corner. Sophia looked down at her phone and checked the time, “9:37pm” ‘How did it get this late so fast?’ Sophia walked up to her room, taking off her uniform and putting on a baggy shirt, she undid her hair and put it up in a messy half-done bun. She turned off her light before climbing into bed being joined by her dog, Daisy.