The Gentiles

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“There goes the superstar,” Fely murmured beside me. She wasn’t a huge sports fan which was funny because she’s dating an athlete.

I went in the classroom and got to my seat with her following close behind me. Jared was nowhere to be found. He’s one of the students who help organize everything for home games. There was one place that I was trying very hard not to check, though. It was hard not to think of the cause of my fatigue, not when it was ever present what with my throbbing head from lack of sleep and the bags under my eyes which thankfully got covered by my huge, thick glasses. It’s a good thing Harry didn’t notice.

The strange voice which came from the front of the class made everyone’s head look up and in turn, my traitor eyes swept across the room. I didn’t see him come in so I was sure he wasn’t sitting anywhere behind me. And as I did a quick search because I can’t help it, I realized he also wasn’t anywhere his favorite spot to sit.

Abe took the liberty to sit anywhere he wanted, or so I’ve been told, but last time I saw him he was sitting near the window. Anyway, I would have noticed his messy mop of a head as soon as I saw it and as quick as I did my perusing, I was certain that he wasn’t here. It made me feel both relieved and worried.

Momentarily distracted, I now focus back on the man who has his back turned from the class, writing something on the board. He was tall, maybe more than a few inches than Harry or Abe, with an unusual red hair. Not to say it looked bad, especially when he turned around and everyone saw that he was good-looking. He’s young, could easily be a university student, but what is he doing here?

“I expect us,” he gestured to himself and then to the whole class, “to get along well with each other as much as you most probably did with your previous teacher.”

Previous teacher? Was he talking about miss Holly?

“Just listen to what I have to say and I promise we’ll all have fun.”

I swear his gaze stayed a few seconds longer on me than when he was viewing the whole class. He was someone familiar yet I could not be more positive that I haven’t seen or met him before in my life.

“That is, until you find a more suitable replacement teacher.”

“Good for her, I guess.”

“Yeah, she’s too good for this school, anyway.”

“Hey. Don’t say that. There is something fulfilling about being a high school English teacher. Right, Callie?”

Jared rubs at his side where Fely elbowed him. They sit on either side of me, which is awkward as heck. Harry must have asked Jared to keep a watchful eye on me. Most of the time, I consider the affection heart melting but now with a crowd full of people where one couldn’t even drop a single needle, it just suffocates me.

Fely is just saying that about teaching because she knows I am considering being one. Exactly like miss Holly. I wanted to become a pop star before when I was younger and understandably stupider. I started to think of other career options when a certain girl commented that if my face is as beautiful as my voice, I would dominate the music industry. Unfortunately for me but luckily for her daughter, I wasn’t blessed with the whole package. That was when I was thirteen on a school talent show. I never joined one ever since.

I nod at Fely, pretending to be hypnotized by the intricate routine the cheerleaders are performing. I can’t say I’m not glad that Kim is not there. Come to think of it, my whole days back at school I had been mostly at stress free because I didn’t once came upon one of those girls from her pose. Not seeing them helps with not thinking about them and it certainly helps with my peace.

The school mascot Gendry the tiger arrives and the whole gym went wild. The away team brought their own mascot, too. From East High, the blue dragon glides from the other side of the court. In my opinion, theirs look more majestic than our white one. It made me giggle when the two pretended to fight each other. It’s somehow silly to me seeing huge stuffed toys flap their hands against each other with their heads turned to the side. It looks childish with no real harm was meant or done.

Both teams went neck to neck during the game. By the fourth quarter, there is still no clear winner. Our school loves playing against East High because they are equally as competitive as us but they’re all good sport and most importantly, they play fair. Unlike Southhampton, whose players are aggressive and sly.

One minute. I thought my heart will stop the second the buzzer does but it does ten seconds just before it sounded because of what happened to the court.

It was fast and from my point of view, I was not able to see much of it. One second Harry was midair with the ball in his hand, the next he was on the floor, clutching his ankle. Everything around me silenced and I could not even hear the beating of my own heart when I see his contorted face as they help him sit on the bench. His skin is glistening from perspiration, hair wet and sloppy.

The paramedics are there in an instant and I want nothing more than to run to him. One guy in the EMT uniform took Harry’s ankles in his hands and does a quick, terse twist. The blood is slowly returning to my circulation it feels like because I am coming back to my senses.

He’s going to be okay.

The terrible fear I felt of Harry being hurt was, sadly, nothing compared to the pain of seeing Hannah throw herself at him and giving him a huge kiss on the mouth.

Glass shatters within my ears and suddenly, everything becomes too much.

The loud, happy cheer of the crowd.

The beating of my heart returning matching the pounding against my temples.

The hot unshed tears I am stubbornly trying to push back against my eyes, making my throat squeeze to the point of breathlessness.

“I have to go use the restroom,” I blurt out to either Fely or Jared. Or to myself, to command my frozen feet to get a move on, make its escape before the walls come tumbling down on me.

I barely register Fely screaming my name, making a run for it past all the people who only have eyes for the magnificent show playing in front of them. When I reach the exit doors, the buzzer finally sounds and the resounding victory scream of our school is unmistakable.

It was Harry’s turn for a free shot and apparently, all he needed was a good luck kiss.

We won the game.

And I just lost my heart.

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