“Is it weird to you that you’re going on a date?” Noah asks me in AP Biology the following morning. We haven’t actually been assigned any work yet, seeing as the first week of school always seems to be a transition period, where we’re not completely over summer break, but also not into the full swing of the school year. I actually completely prefer to be thrown into schoolwork, seeing as I am a nerd for school. “We’re all nerds for something,” Alexander had once told me. He had been a huge nerd for the Harry Potter series. While he had gotten me to read all of the novels and watch all of the movies, I haven’t been able to look at ‘The Golden Trio’ since his passing.
“What?” I ask, shoving my glasses up my nose. My right eye swelled up this morning thanks to my ungodly allergies to legitimately nearly everything outdoors, and I found it extremely painful to put my contacts in. So I had to settle for my glasses that are just a little bit too big, which means that they slide off my nose constantly.
“With Max? From the way he’s talked, you’ve never seemed interested. Even though he says that he has tried literally everything to let you know that he likes you,” he states, emphasizing the word literally.
I smirk, slightly. “I always knew he did. But I didn’t know that I was interested back.”
In all honesty, I’m not even sure if I am into Max. I spent the longer part of the prior night wondering whether or not I actually wanted to go on this date. Could I back out? Certainly I can. Should I back out? That’s the real question, isn’t it? But, no, I can’t leave him hanging like that. Liam was certainly right yesterday: if things don’t work out, then they don’t and Max will certainly know it. Or I may find out that I actually do like Max as more than my best friend. Besides, he’d be more heartbroken that I never gave him a chance than me trying to go out with him and realizing that we’re better as just friends.
“They tell me that you weren’t a dater, before.”
Shocked, I wonder if he’s going to bring up Alexander’s death. It’s a topic that has danced around the two of us before, more times than necessary within the few days that we’ve been acquainted. But, I still don’t know if he knows about Alexander. I don’t particularly feel like whining about it to him, because he lost someone that he knew for eighteen years while I lost someone I knew for four months. It’s not the same for us at all. Though I feel like he wants me to bring him up. It’s hard for me to understand, in all honesty. Especially because I constantly feel plagued by his death, this is something that I’m probably being very irrational about. I sometimes forget that the world does not revolve around Alexander Willis, although, I am certain that it spun just for him at one point.
So, instead of waiting for him to say anything about Alexander aloud, I ask, “Who’s ‘they’?”
“Like, literally all of our friends, Aaryn.” His eyes narrow slightly, becoming dark green slits that look as though they belong to a snake. “In fact, they’ve all been very close for as long as I can remember. And you weren’t ever friends with them.”
“We just became friends, last year,” I sigh. “I, uh, didn’t really have friends before, so whatever.”
“Really? The way Max always talked, it seemed like every boy here has wanted to date you. And every girl wanted to be you. I remember when Liam was younger, before he met Avalon, he used to dawn on about the wonderful Aaryn Lake! But, it doesn’t seem that way to me.” If possible, his focus on me becomes stronger. He always seems to have an extremely intense look upon his face. Even when his hair falls in front of his eyes, he can casually move it back without ever breaking eye contact. He does that a lot, both pushing back his hair and staring at me intensely.
“Actually, really no one else talks to you.”
“Abi will scare them off.” It’s a short comment, but an effective one, because Noah only laughs in response, and doesn’t push the subject any further.
When we finally get into AP Lit, I’m glad to find that our partners from yesterday are not permanent. While I like Noah well enough, I also only share one class and lunch with Abi, and feel as though I need to talk to her. Her hair is greasy today, which is not all too surprising, seeing as my best friend seems to only shower two times a week. Maybe three during the summer months.
“I’m nervous,” I admit to her, and by the way that she nods at me, I know that she’s nervous for me.
“It’s just that, I don’t really know if he’s the right type of guy for you,” she begins to explain. But before she can go on, my eyes widen completely.
“You’re choosing now to be unsupportive of this date?” I ask, in a hushed whisper. “I’m not sure that I can do this and I need you to push me forward!”
“It’s just-” she stops suddenly. My mind is racing. Am I wrong? “No, you should go. This will be great for you.”
My mind is filled with thoughts about what she might have said. Alas, I’ll never know because we are yelled at to stop speaking, and because of us group time is done for the day. She avoids me as she exits the classroom.
“Max is really excited.” I roll my eyes, as apparently no one else has decided to ignore me. I smile briefly at Liam and Noah.
“Me, too.” I say, more confidently than I actually feel on the outside. “Me too.”