Backpack strapped against one shoulder, headphones in, trying to both look cool and not trip as I walk down the halls. I reach my locker, where I struggle for about 5 minutes before I get the damn thing open, and then realize there was nothing I needed from it. That’s just how my brain works.
The hallways are empty, and the classes all quiet. Only like 5 other people are crazy enough to be here this early. I like to beat the rush by arriving early, lest I be swept in the herd. Walking through the halls, an eairy sense fills me, a sense I’m being watched. Stopping, I'm looking around until I heard someone clear their throat from behind. “Good morning Ms. O’Henry”, my bio teacher greets. Poop juice, I thought, I can never remember his name. “Morning sir,” I smile back with.
“Are you looking for something to miss?”.
“Yes”, I lie smoothly, “I thought I lost my earrings, but it turns out I didn't wear any today. Sorry, my bad.”
“No, of course not. Well, have a good day, I will see you later in class”.
Releasing a breath, I turn and head towards my classroom, but not before searching the walls again. Taking a seat, I reset my headphones back to my ears, got out my notebook, and started aimlessly doodling.
10 minutes later, students start filing in, talking and shouting at once. Mrs. Pota walks in last and gets things going with attendance. After taking roll call, she turns to the board and starts the lesson on whatever it is we’re learning today. It's not that important right now, I’ll just learn it when it's time for the test.
always pick my seat in the same spot in this class, the best spot. My seat is next to the window, and behind Brad. I spend the whole class looking out the window, and Brad is so tall he covers me from the teachers view. I never get called on. Resting my face against my hand and sighing, I look out at the birds and trees and people. Just the normalcy of it. Just a day like any other. A life like any other. I continue doodling, letting my mind wander.
Walking through the halls in the morning and walking through them now, during lunch, are two very different things. As I make my way to the cafeteria, I’m also dodging footballs being thrown, people too absorbed to their phones to notice who and what is in front of them, and crowds growing in size. Couples hang in the back, teachers in the front, some students gossiping in the corners. Just a typical high school, that’s what Hillview High is like. As I cross the double doors to the cafeteria, my eyes search for an empty seat.
Great, I thought.
As the only high school in our town, all people of age come to this school. Hail View is too small compared to the endless amount of students who attend, so many people are forced to sit with people they don't know or wander through the halls for lunch.
Ding Taking my attention from the cafeteria, I turn to my phone.
“Couldn't find a place. Meet us in the usual place. -Ten”
After buying lunch, I go to the usual lunch spot me and my friends use if we don't find seats at lunch. It goes unnoticed by most of the student body, so we have the place to ourselves.
Strictly speaking, it's also by the garbage bins behind the school. Only the best for me and my friends.
Turning the corner, I spot then arguing by the garbage bins. Tennaise, who goes by Ten, waves me over. I perch on the dumpster top, food on my lap, and get comfy. Our group consists of us three: me, ten and Lucas . Lucas is what others would call the bad boy of the school. Tall, dark and brooding, he sure was a sight to see. We were a group of misfits, the three of us.
Ten came from a higher up family, with more privileges than I had clothes. Her one shoe would cost more than my entire wardrobe. She was kind of oblivious to the fact that she had money though. She was just another person to us.
We met when we were like 6 or something, back when she was a spoiled kid. She came up to me in the park and demanded that we be friends, and we've been friends ever since.
Lucas, on the other hand, came from almost nothing. He gained his reputation by the clothes he wore, which everyone assumed was by choice. The whole deal, bad boy wearing the same clothes almost everyday. Baggy, dirty sweatpants, with ragged and ripped shirts, we thought it was how he just dressed. We met Lucas back in ninth grade, when we found him hanging back at the end of the day to avoid going home. Of course, his story wasn't that simple, we just don't talk about it anymore, he prefers it that way.
And then there's me, found in between, but just as content with my life.
“What was it you guys were fighting about? '', I ask as I take a bite of my sandwich.
“This idiot thinks that animals don't have feelings! I mean, have you ever heard of something more delusional!” Ten all but screams, pointing at Lucas.
Lucas, with his mouth full, just shrugs and says, “You believe what you want to. I’ll believe what I want to”. Typical Lucas, the neutral party.
Ten grumbles, folding her hands across her chest, “sure, believe the wrong thing why don't you?”. She glares at him and starts giving him a full lecture on the fact that animals do have feelings and he is wrong.
Leaning back, I watch their argument bounce back and forth, no one really saying anything besides screaming “yes!” or “no!”.
Resting my head back, I close my eyes and just let the familiarity of this wash over me.
“Hey Olivia”, Ten says, “That guy across the street keeps looking at you. You got an admirer”. She pointed over to the street, where there, in fact, was a man with his eyes locked onto me. He sat on the bench with a stiff posture, looking almost uncomfortable. Looking into his eyes, there was an odd sense of familiarity to it.
He gets up suddenly, knocking the newspaper off his lap. Picking it up and brushing his coat, he puts his hands in his pocket, gives me one last look, and walks with his head to the ground. Once he gained some distance between us, I turned back to my friends.
“I don't think it was admirer Ten”, I said, still thinking back to how his eyes held a sense of recognition looking at me. “He looked like he was old enough to be our grandfather. He probably just thought we looked like someone he knows”
“Yeah, you're right about that”, Lucas says, squinting as the man turned the corner and was out of our sight altogether. “But it's still weird how he only looked at you. Do you think you know him from anywhere?”
Before I could respond, the lunch bell rings, sending the birds around the building flying. I jump off the dumpster, open the lid, and toss my junk inside.
“Time for hell”, Ten says with a grimace. She loops her hands through mine and Lucas's, leading us back to the building. I lean over and shake my head at Lucas, saying “I don't think I know him from anywhere”.
“He was probably just looking over when we caught him staring, no big deal”, as always, Ten shrugs off the issue. After a reluctant nod from Lucas, he drops the subject.
As we walked back to school, I couldn't shake the feeling that the guy was still watching.
I had a nagging feeling that while I didn't know him, he knew me well.
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