I stared at her empty seat and sighed. She was skipping school—again. For the fifth time this week. I hadn’t seen her since our row on Sunday, and by now, I was pretty worried. It wasn’t like her at all to stay away from me for long. From school, sure, but she should have texted me by now, or sneaked up to my window at night, like she’d done last time.
“Lux! Can you conjugate the verb for us, or not?”
I blushed a deep crimson and sank down my seat. Of course our French teacher had to catch me with my mind with her!
Some students laughed, and I could feel Jenna’s disapproving stare in my back. In a split second, I made a decision. I got up, mumbled an apology, and left the classroom while whispers erupted behind my back.
Once outside, I sank down and cried. I missed her, and I was afraid I’d ruined our friendship forever. Had I so misread her? Had I been wrong?
We had been watching a cheesy movie at my place, like on so many Sundays before. A romantic flick, something with Julia Roberts or some other famous star. I didn’t even remember the title, but I still remembered what she’d worn that night. An old pair of jeans with more holes than a golf course, and a black tank top. She’d smelled of motor oil and sun on her skin. I’d watched her instead of the movie: the gentle curve of her neck, how she’d puckered her lips in disgust at a cheesy scene, the sparkle of mischief in her eyes as the female lead took her revenge.
At some point, she’d glanced at me and her eyes had widened in surprise when she’d realised I’d been watching her for a while already. She’d cocked her head and my heart beat had sped up. Now or never, had flashed through my mind. I still remembered every single detail of that moment, every agonizing second. I’d leaned over to her and had planted a kiss on her lips. For what seemed like eternity, I had felt her soft lips, slightly open in surprise, but that connection had been abruptly ended when she’d jerked her head back. That stare! I squeezed my eyes shut but that shocked look had etched itself into my memory.
And now I’d lost her. She had jumped up and a moment later I’d heard the engine of her bike rev up. I’d sat there, staring at the credits of the movie for hours, listening, hoping, crying. Nothing. She hadn’t returned.
I don’t know for how long I’d been sitting there, hidden from the other students, outside our school. The last student had long since left the building, and even our principal’s car was gone.
It was quiet. My breathing had slowed a while ago, and the dried tears had left salty streaks on my face. When I heard soft footsteps on the gravel, I didn’t know who to expect. Maybe my mother, who’d come looking for me. Or Janna, to tell me how ridiculous I was. I sure as hell didn’t expect to find Jinx kneeling in front of me, her hand timidly on mine as if she wasn’t sure whether she’d be allowed to touch me.
“Hey,” she said.
“Hey,” I said back.
“Can we…I don’t know, maybe start over again?” She chewed on her lip and tried a half-smile. “I don’t think I reacted quite the way you expected…”
“I…you…” I burst out laughing from the sheer absurdity of the situation. Here she was, over-confident, always-sure-of-herself Jinx, looking as if she’d been caught with her hand in the cookie jar. Her eyes pleading with me to give us another chance.
When I had caught my breath again, I nodded, not trusting myself to speak. My heart was in my throat and I was afraid if I’d breath, she’d disappear like the illusion this had to be.
She took my face in her hands and wiped a tear away with her thumb. I hadn’t even realised that I’d started crying again. “I’m sorry,” she whispered. And then she kissed me. Gently, kind of unsure of how to do it, and yet it felt true. Her lips were soft, and the kiss tasted slightly salty. My tears, I realised.
After the kiss, she got up and extended her hand towards me. Without a word, I let her pull me up and followed her to her bike. She never let anyone ride with her, but today she gestured to me to climb up behind her. I leaned on her back and held tight. When she revved up her engine and drove off, a bit smile spread across my face.