He followed me.
He followed me down the hallway to my locker.
But as I looked over my shoulder, he was gone. A blonde head in a sea of people trudging onwards, step by step, as if guided by a common goal.
I pondered the idea of what the act of following meant as I spun the dial on my locker, fighting for some space. In the act of thinking, I grabbed the wrong books.
I got a pass from my teacher and soon found myself in a quest to retrieve the right materials; classroom doors shut, people looking at me as I passed by.
As I rounded the corner, I could've sworn he was there. I paused before I spun the dial, letting my hand linger in the air. I was caught between illusion and reality. But I wasn't ready to leave.
Exactly 45 minutes later I saw him again. He quickly turned away as I swung my head around and looked at him. I fought back the urge to run towards him and yell after him, to get him to stop and look at me.
For some reason, unknown to me, I was drawn to him. It seemed as though he was drawn to me too. I took a deep breath to calm myself and continued walking in the opposite direction of my blonde fixation.
All of a sudden, as if I had just woken up, I found myself in English class, half-listening to the lecture. I let my head roll side to side, glancing at the clock, then by habit, out the door.
And there he was. He smirked at me, taunting me to come and follow him, then continued to walk on. I just sat there, my mouth half open, only thinking of those crystal blue eyes that had pierced right through me. It was as if in those few seconds he had seen my soul.
Or he could've seen someone else's soul. Slowly and nonchalantly I glanced behind me. Surveying the room, I found that the blonde that had just graced my presence by walking past the room affected not one person as he had me.
A few seconds later, the bell had rung. I took my time gathering my books, smiling at the people who passed me by on their way out of the room. I was the last one who exited, walking by myself, concentrating on the jumble of books in my arms. Not two steps out of the door I felt a tug on my elbow.
"Come with me," those crystal eyes had captured my attention yet again. I could do nothing but obey.
Curiously I followed him, shuffling my books as the pains became cramps in my arms. He made a gesture to take them from me and I gladly handed him the few things that were giving me the most trouble. He had no books; in fact, he looked as if he had never even attended a class. He had me in awe at his simplicity.
My feet carried me behind him as he took me underneath one of the barely used stairways in back end of the school.
"Are you going to be late?" he asked, though I knew either answer I was to give wouldn't make a difference.
"I'll make it quick then," he bent over and set my books down on top of the vending machine that was never stocked. When he stood back up, he reached in his back pocket and fished out a white piece of paper, folded ornately.
"This is for you."
The warning bell rang.
"Since we don't have much time, can I see you tomorrow, same time?"
I nodded with my eyes on the little treasure he handed me. He patted me on the shoulder.
"Until then" he bent over slightly and gave me a peck on the cheek.
I stood in our little alcove for a few minutes until I heard the bell ring. It was then that I decided to move out and venture towards my next class. I was most always late for any class, no matter what the occasion.
The neatly folded note laid on my desk for an hour before I mustered up the courage to open it. The folds were precise, the paper smelled like fresh ink. The scent purged my senses, making me smile at the thought of the same precious piece of paper being safely hidden in his back pocket.
I began to unfold each piece, being careful not to crumple or rip the paper. I blinked my eyes a couple of times, trying to focus in on the tiny blue pen scratches that had formed a few simple words.
Michael Ross. 226-1689
Can't wait to see you..
The note, if it was one, puzzled me. Crystal eyes had pulled me aside, handed me a piece of paper, and left me with his name and number, which seemed like less information than I had started with.
But as I glanced over his name and number, taking in the curves of his S's and the slight smudge under his name, a smile crept upon my face.
For the first time in a while, I was looking forward to school the next day.
I was hoping for something. A change, maybe. A hint would've been ideal. But nothing. I found myself staring longer than I should down the hallway, scanning outside of classrooms every five seconds. But I didn't see any more of him than I would have on any other normal day.
Finally, the end of English had come. I was so built up with anticipation that my mouth was dry and my palms sweaty. I had no idea what to expect. I just wanted to see him again and find out more about him.
He was standing outside of the door, his hands behind him and his feet crossed, leaning up against the wall. He smiled as I handed him some of my books and we started walking down the hallway to the stairwell.
"Carly, right? Your name's Carly Ander?"
"Anderson. Yeah." My knuckles turned white as I clutched harder onto my few folders.
"Well it's nice to finally meet you, Carly Anderson. Formally, I mean." He extended his hand. As I grabbed it in return, he spoke again. "I'm Michael Ross."
"I know," I squeaked.
Crystal eyes stopped and turned around to face me. The warning bell had rung just as he had started to speak.
"What's your next class?"
"Your next class. Can you miss it?"
"Um, yeah, sure."
"Ok, I've got somewhere we can go. To talk." He waved his arm up and around, as if signaling everyone to come join us. "It's just over here." He touched my right hand and grabbed it as I loosened my grip on my books.
The uneasiness started to settle in as he opened a door that led out from our deserted stairwell into a courtyard that had been over-run with weeds and bushes. I stood in the doorway for a few seconds, watching him make his way down the courtyard to sit at the crumbling white cement table.
For some reason I had never known this courtyard to exist. It looked years old; signs of aging were evident everywhere. Vines covered the brick walls and all the windows were locked shut, black paper lining the inside of them to keep students wandering eyes focused in the classroom.
"Come on, sit," he patted his hand on the hot cement. "It's ok. I've been coming here for years. The old place is deserted, no one cares about it anymore," he pointed to a vine and half laughed. "See?"
I did see, but it didn't ease my worries. Hesitantly, I took a seat next to him, setting my books down and glancing at the watch on my left wrist. 11:03.
"So, Carly Anderson?" Crystal eyes raised his eyebrows. "Who are you?" he laughed, putting his hand on top of mine.
"Um?" I had not the slightest idea of how to respond to that question.
"Are you a freshman?"
"Are you in any clubs? Sports?"
"No, not really. I don't take to social activities very well," I shrugged.
The conversation was strained. I felt uncomfortable and I wanted to leave. But Crystal eyes had me under a spell that I couldn't break. He looked me straight in the eyes when he asked me a question, a slight smile danced on his lips and flirted with his eyes, and he looked absolutely adorable. I couldn't leave if I tried.
He pushed his hand through his hair and sighed. I twiddled my thumbs and sighed in response.
"So, what now?" He half smiled. I could tell he was frustrated, if not with me, but with how the conversation was going.
"Heh, um?" I turned around and looked at him. He sat there, expectant. Before I knew what I was even going to say, I just blurted out what had been on my mind. "Why do you follow me?"
It was evident that I had shocked him with this question.
"Me, follow you? What?" He suddenly sprang up, his back upright.
"Yeah. I mean, I see you all the time. You're around every corner I turn, you're a few steps behind me in the hallway, but you turn around every time I look at you. Why?"
He sat there in silence. "Carly, I swear to god I had no idea," was his explanation.
"Are you sure? Cause it felt like you were stalking me," I eyed him carefully as he paused, thinking of how to answer correctly.
"I mean, yeah, sure, I've seen you in the hallways a couple of times. But I have not been following you" he scooted closer to me and cupped my hands in his. "I promise. And I'm sorry if it seemed that way," he kissed my hands and looked up at me, those crystal eyes staring right into my soul, feeding off of my anger and turning it into pure infatuation. I was hooked.
He knew it, too. And he took it to his full advantage.
I sat in English class, doodling on a quiz we were supposed to be taking, thinking of Crystal eyes and the courtyard. I glanced up at the clock. Only eight more minutes.
As my attention whittled away from my quiz and aimed more at counting down the minutes, I noticed him at the door before anyone else did.
He was waving at me. I smiled back. He waved at me again, this time I noticed the "come on" motion added to it. He wanted me to come out into the hallway.
Normally, I wouldn't go out into the hallway to see a boy, all the while leaving an unfinished quiz and risking the fact that I could get into trouble. But this wasn't a normal boy, and my quiz wasn't really unfinished, I hadn't even started on it yet. So I found myself getting up out of my seat, taking my pencil with me and walking out of the classroom. Those crystal eyes were waiting for me.