Elisa stares out the window of her classroom seated at her desk the third row down along the wall and watches as two boys play catch with a football in the field. The sun shining brightly against the backdrop of the blue sky, her teacher Mrs. Williams drowns in the background. The bell rings and she snaps back to reality, quickly shoves her books into her backpack, and slings her bag over her shoulder. She gets up and starts heading towards the exit, weaving her way through the other students and around the desks. Her straight brown shoulder-length hair flutters behind her. She is wearing a sweater over a red t-shirt. Skinny jeans and purple sneakers.
“Elisa, can you come to talk to me for a moment?” Mrs. Williams asks her.
“Sure.” Replies Elisa. The other students snicker, whispering. She ignores them as she passes by and stops at the front of Mrs. Williams’s desk.
“Elisa dear can you do me a favor and give this boy a tour of the school I have a meeting I need to attend.” A boy stands beside the teacher's desk. Elisa turns to Mrs. Williams and nods her head yes. Mrs. Williams quickly ushers them out of the classroom, locks the door behind her, and heads off to the meeting.
Elisa turns to the boy but before she can utter a word he's already halfway down the hall and she quickly rushes after him keeping pace. The boy side-eyes her and rolls his eyes stopping. Elisa starts to introduce herself, “Hi I-.” But gets cut off mid-speech.
“Yeah, yeah your Elisa blah blah blah. Enough with the introductions ok?” He snaps. Elisa is shocked for a moment then says, “That’s very rude. You shouldn’t-”
''I said shut up.” He glares at her and murmurs, “Girls, jeez.” as he shoves his hands into his pockets. Elisa takes in his outfit for the first time, he is wearing a red and white flannel over a black t-shirt, a gold chain necklace hangs from around his neck. Denim jeans ripped open at the knees, and black Nike sneakers. Sighing he makes eye contact with her. His deep blue ocean eyes study her chocolate brown eyes. He laughs taking in her slowly reddening face, “Why you red?”
“I’m angry ok!” Elisa murmurs irritatedly. She quickly looks away from him, blinking rapidly. He tilts his head trying to see her face but fails. He quickly grabs her chin and yanks it towards him so he can see her. Studying her he notices she's trying to suppress tears.
He frowns, “Why are you crying?” Elisa pulls her chin away and glares at him desperately trying not to cry.
“Like you care!” She says her voice is a mixture of anger and frustration. The boy is hurt for a moment then casually leans against a locker and reaches out a hand towards her face but she slaps it away.
“Ouch.” He winces. Elisa turns and storms away without another word.
The boy murmurs to himself, “Intriguing girl.” A smile slowly appears on his face as he watches her retreating figure. Elisa is lost in her thoughts and fuming to herself.
“That boy is such a jerk.” When three girls step into her path blocking her way. She looks up to see Taylor, her blond hair twisted up into a ponytail wearing a V-neck t-shirt and a short denim skirt. On Taylor’s left side, the girl has her red hair in one braid wearing a fleece white-colored dress and black dress shoes. On Taylor’s right side, a dirty blonde girl in a similar outfit to Taylor’s glares at Elisa with her hands on her hips. Taylor tilts her head at Elisa and smirks, “Look what we have here. Looks like the nerd is lost.”
Elisa glares at her, “I’m not lost. Now if you’ll excuse me,” she replies as is about to walk past her but Taylor snaps her fingers and the two girls step in front of her blocking her way. She turns to go back the way she came but the red-haired girl gets in her way, she looks between both girls realizing she’s trapped.
“Going somewhere?” Taylor laughs. Elisa’s hand tightens around her backpack strap, her knuckles going white.
“Yeah away from you.” What the heck Elisa! Way to go now you're dead! She screams inside her head. Taylor abruptly stops laughing,
“Girls, let’s teach her a lesson in manners shall we?” The two girls close in on Elisa and each of them grabs one of her arms. She cries out as their nails dig into her arms leaving indents. The boy from earlier is watching as both girls drag Elisa around a corner and out of sight and decide to follow them. You messed with the wrong girl. He chuckles softly, saying to himself,
“Don’t worry Elisa I got you.” Before following a few feet behind them unnoticed.
Elisa struggles to get out of both the girls' grips but it’s useless and they yank her. She stumbles, ramming her head against a metal locker. The boy sees this, his hands tighten into fists wanting to hurt the girls that hurt her but checks himself and silently continues to follow. Elisa shouts in pain but the girls ignore her cries and continue walking. Moments later Taylor stops outside.
“Girls, I think she needs a bath don’t you?” She tilts her head towards the pool, crossing her arms over her chest, smiling wickedly. Both girls smile back at her. Elisa frantically tries to get away, screaming for help but is too late. Taylor cackles as both girls push Elisa into the deep end of the pool. She falls in with a splash, choking as water fills her lungs. Elisa frantically tries to swim to the surface but fails. Out of the corner of Taylor’s eye, she sees a boy watching. She starts to walk up to him, about to introduce herself but the boy ignores her and quickly takes off his shirt exposing his bare chest, shoving it at Taylor with enough force to where she tumbles to the ground in a heap and dives into the pool. Elisa’s lungs burn as she desperately tries to get air but is met with a mouthful of chlorine water, any air in her lungs disintegrates. She panics as she slowly sinks to the bottom of the pool wondering, is this how I die?
The water ripples and moves, and she faintly sees someone swimming towards her, he quickly grabs hold of her wrapping his arms around her waist, and swims pulling her up with him to the surface. The boy quickly gets out of the pool holding her in his arms and sets her gently on the cement. He quickly checks to see if she is breathing, and proceeds to do CPR. He repeats this process until Elisa gasps coughing up water. The boy sits back sighing with relief. She finally manages to get her breathing under control and looks up startled to see the boy from earlier sitting beside her, seeing his chest bare, in nothing but drenched jeans. His hair dripping wet and looks away face red.
“You ok?” He asks concern evident in his voice. Elisa weakly nods her head yes as she coughs. He gently pulls her up into a sitting position. She wordlessly stares at him.
“What?” He asks, confused.
“I never got your name.”
“Oh, it’s Luke.” She nods. Luke leans his mouth towards her ear and whispers for her to stay here.
He stands up, walking towards Taylor grabs his shirt from her tossing it to the side, and quickly grabs her by her hair causing her to scream and stumble as he drags her towards the edge of the pool and pushes her in. Elisa tries to keep from laughing but it escapes bubbling up from her throat out of her mouth in bursts. Luke grabs his shirt and slips it on before walking over to Elisa and gingerly picks her up gathering her to his chest and starts walking with her in his arms. Elisa gasps.
“Put me down.” She whispers embarrassed. Luke ignores her protests and continues walking. He walks past the pool seeing Taylor whining about her clothes and hair being ruined and he laughs, glaring at Taylor and she recoils. He continues walking and asks Elisa his voice is gentle and sweet, “where’s the nurse’s office?”
“It’s down the hall from the second to last door on your left.” She replies. Luke heads in the direction she told him until he is standing in front of the door. She tries to get down, but Luke tightens his grip on her, refusing to let go. The nurse opens the door and is shocked, eyes widening to see Elisa and Luke soaking wet. The nurse reluctantly lets them in. Luke gently sets her down on the bed, the paper covering the bed crackles from her movement, and leans against the wall. The nurse asks Elisa what happened.
“I just tripped and fell into the pool is all.” She lies. Luke looks at her silently begging her to tell the truth and when she won’t budge he explains.
“She didn’t trip. She fell into the pool. These three girls deliberately pushed her in. I had to go and rescue her,” Luke explained. He shrugs like it was nothing. Elisa looks at him, her eyes widening, hair dripping water softly onto the parchment paper leaving little splashes of dots that seep through the paper. The nurse is alarmed and asks Elisa if she’s ok repeatedly. She tries to explain that she didn’t get hurt but the nurse refuses to drop it. She sighs helplessly as she watches the nurse leave the room, going to grab some towels when Luke quickly grabs her hand and pulls her up off the bed, and leads her out of the nurse’s office and out the building.
Elisa tugs her hand trying to get free but Luke just tightens his grip. “Where are you taking me?” She asks.
“Be quiet and just be a good girl will you.”
She frowns at his words, “I’m not a little kid Luke,” her voice daring him to contradict her. He ignores her, looks around, and then seeing that the coast is clear, yanks her behind the side of the school into the shadows, pulling her close. Elisa’s heart rate picks up realizing how close she is to him and steps back giving him space. Luke turns to her and sighs tiredly.
“Who were those girls?” He asks. Elisa bites her lower lip and hesitantly says, “That was Taylor and her two monkeys.” Luke chuckles hearing her refer to the two girls as monkeys. Elisa covers her face with her hands and takes slow deep breaths. Luke sits down and pats the spot beside him on the ground. Hesitantly she sits beside him a few feet between them.
“I’m not gonna bite you.” He says as he motions her to come closer. Elisa shakes her head no and Luke reaches out grabs her hand pulling her towards him. She blushes and yanks her hand free. Luke sighs and seeing that they are inches from each other gives up.
“Why did you drag me out here?” Elisa asks.
“Cause I figured you’d had enough of that annoying nurse and needed a breather.” Luke replies. Elisa looks away and whispers, “Thanks, Luke.” He turns looking at her shocked to hear her say his name for the first time. Luke quickly recovers and smiles at her. Suddenly a handful of lollipops appear before her. Elisa’s eyes widened in shock.
“Did you steal those?!” Elisa exclames.
Luke motions for her to keep it down and says, “It said ‘take one’ and I did. I took multiple ones.” He sees her staring at him astonished and he shrugs laughing, “Relax they’re free aren’t they?” Elisa nods her head and Luke offers them to her. She reaches out for a watermelon flavor to grab but Luke quickly takes it back. She looks at him confused. He pockets the rest of the lollipops and tears off the wrapper. Sticking it in his mouth, he glances at her, taking in her confused expression.
“Hey that-'' He quickly takes the lollipop out of his mouth and gently places it into her own. Reaches under her chin and slowly closes her mouth. Her face heats up in embarrassment. Luke watches her casually.
She quickly takes the lollipop out of her mouth, coughing.
“You ok?” He asks. She wordlessly looks from the lollipop to him and back again. He bursts into a fit of laughter. She glances at him confused. He tilts his head to the side and notices her shivering. “Are you cold?” He asks. Elisa nods her head rubbing her arms that are covered with goosebumps, hair standing on edge with her hands. He grabs his hoodie and slips it on her, wraps his arms around her waist, pulling her onto his lap. She blushes and leans against him finally starting to get warm.
She barely whispers “Why did you help me?”
“Because I figured you needed rescuing.” She rolls her eyes and looks away. Luke laughs and Elisa stares at him for a moment, “friends?” He asks. Her face turns beet red in embarrassment and nods her head saying, “friends.” Luke gets up, pulling her with him swiftly and she stumbles. Luke quickly wraps his arms around her waist and pulls her close before she can fall. Her face turns red. Luke quickly lets go, and they both walk back inside the school.
The final bell rings and school is let out. Luke quickly stuffs everything in his backpack, slings it over his shoulder, and swiftly walks out of English heading for the office. As he walks down the hall making his way through the sea of students, girls glance up at him as he passes by giggling and whispering. Luke ignores them and opens the door to the office. A polished birch table sits in the center of the room, a leather chair behind the desk. The right wall holds various encyclopedias and dictionaries that line the shelves. The wall parallel to the door hangs some degrees and certificates, awards for past graduations, and studies the principal took.
The principal looks up from his desk, “Oh hello Luke. How was your first day?”
Luke ignores his question and says, “Cut the crap Dad, we need to talk.” His father looks up, concern flicking across his face, and motions for him to sit down on a chair across from his desk. Luke sits explaining what happened.
Elisa is outside the school still wearing Luke’s hoodie impatiently waiting for her Mom’s blue mini SUV to pull up alongside the curb. Her mother honks the car horn and she walks up, opens the door, and gets inside, closing it behind her. Her mother shifts the car into drive and pulls away from the curb as Elisa buckles her seatbelt and notices her wearing an unfamiliar hoodie. Her mother motions towards the hoodie.
“So care to explain why you weren’t in class today!” She snaps. Elisa gulps, blushing as she looks down noticing for the first time that she still has Luke’s hoodie on and her thoughts wander to him. Luke walks inside the house slamming the door shut.
“How was your first-day dear?” His mother calls from the kitchen.
“Sucked,” he replies with his tone indicating to drop the subject. His mother comes out of the kitchen wearing a yellow apron, rubber spatula in hand forgetting that chicken is in the oven, and glances at him worried. Luke ignores her, kicking off his shoes he quickly heads upstairs to his room slamming the door closed.
He sighs, taking off his backpack, and drops it onto his desk chair. He plops onto the bed and pulls out his phone scrolling through Instagram. His room is messy, dirty clothes lay thrown across the floor making it impossible to get by without banging his foot against something. His room has various posters hanging on the walls. His computer lays open on his desk, sketchbooks flung carelessly on it. One is open on top of the others, it’s page blank. Luke sighs, gets up, walks over to his desk, and pushes his bag off the chair onto the floor, sitting down he grabs a charcoal pencil and begins to sketch. The outlines of a girl slowly coming into focus.
Gracias por leer!
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