"Hi," the stranger said. Faye stared blankly at him as she remained stood next to the table, neither sitting nor collecting her things. The man looked up at her and a smile tugged at the corner of his mouth.
"This is where you say hi back," he continued and Faye's features twisted in confusion. She shook her head trying to clear the fog that had descended.
"Hi," she replied, more a mumble than actual words when her thoughts became coherent, pulling her hands clumsily from her pockets as she tried to collect up her notebook and pens as fast as possible. Faye tried desperately to stare at anything else but him as her fingers fumbled annoyingly at the pens like they were tentacles on an octopus.
"Are you leaving because of me?" He asked, confusion across his face now like Faye's moments before. Faye ignored the question and grabbed her bag from the ground as she threw her things inside silently.
"Hey, are you ok? I didn't mean to scare you."
"Stop following me then," she blurted out in response before she could stop herself. Her eyes met his to see his reaction, now that the words were out there. She saw as he looked shocked, the bit between his brow furrowed.
"Following you? I'm not following you. I've started a week late and only sat here because I remembered you from the bus journey. I wanted to apologize as I had clearly made you uncomfortable but I can see now that was a mistake," he explained, rising from the chair as he spoke. "But you don't have to go, I'll go. Sorry to have intruded," he continued, sadness in his tone but anger in his body language, his movements heavy and sharp as he turned to leave.
For a split second, Faye felt relief that he was leaving but her mother's voice, telling her to make an effort, pulled at her to make him stay.
"No, wait. I'm sorry," Faye called out, watching as he stilled, turning back towards her instead. He ruffled his hair with his hand as the silence spread out between them. Faye decided to silently lower herself into the chair instead of saying anything else, mainly because she didn't know what to say. She heard as the chair next to her was softly pulled out and saw the strangers form sit slowly into it as if he was unsure if she wanted him to actually sit.
While he was sat there Faye peered secretly at him out the corner of her eye. His hair was such a deep black that she felt as though it was made of pure darkness. His skin was pale but Faye didn't know if that was because he was actually really pale or his hair was so dark it just made it seem like it. His eyes were a crystal blue and seemed so dominant against the rest of his features. Out of place almost.
"So, what's your name?" He asked. His voice almost held a melody to it and made Faye feel a little warm at the sound of it.
"Faye," she replied, suddenly realising she hadn't offered it. He smiled softly at her as she fiddled with one of the stray pens that she had left on the table. In her head she was screaming at herself to say something, anything to continue this conversation. It seemed her mind was only good at panicking about what to say, not actually saying anything.
"I'm Kellan. So what's your next class?" He asked and Faye tried desperately to relax herself, noting how stiff she felt in the chair. She dropped the pen she was holding, the sound of it clattering on the table seeming louder than normal.
"Ummm, psychology I think," she replied, her mind suddenly going blank when usually it held all the information she needed. Faye ran her hand through her unruly hair, letting it fall softly over half her face as she lent forward, closer to the table. She hated how awkward she felt but then again years of being bullied made her wary of strangers. They were like bees, necessary and beautiful but they held a sting. Actually more like wasps, able to sting her over and over without dying.
"Wow, the human brain, braver than I am,"
"What do you mean?"
"I just mean, I'd worry if I took psychology I'd end up diagnosing myself as something crazy like a psychopath or schizophrenic," Kellan explained, humour in his voice whilst he twirled his finger near his temple as the word schizophrenic fell out of his mouth. Faye immediately stood, clambering messily at her bag before swinging it over her shoulder. She watched Kellan's face once again twist in confusion at her actions. For a moment a voice in her head told her to stop reacting so volcanically, to take a moment and explain to him that what he had said was offensive. To educate him. But she didn't have the fight left in her. She just wanted to be as far away from the bee as possible before he turned into a wasp.
"Hey, is everything alright?" He asked, reaching his hand out to still her. Faye flinched from his touch and his hand fell onto the table in front of him.
"Yeah. I just, umm, I forgot about something," she half mumbled, meeting his eyes slightly before rushing towards the exit. She fought the urge to turn back towards him, fixating on the beautiful oak doors that signalled an end to this torment. Faye barely managed to shoot a smile in Mrs Keller's direction before her hands touched the doors and she barrelled through them.
Faye sighed loudly as she not only heard but felt the big doors close with her absence. She didn't pause her steps to relish the relief, instead she kept on walking forward. She slowed a little when no other footsteps echoed behind her own, reassured that Kellan wasn't following her. Her mind kept imagining his face though, bright blue eyes burning into her subconscious. She shook her head angrily to clear it, footsteps heavier as the annoyance seemed to spread into her limbs.
The exposed red brick covered the bottom of the walls as she walked back towards the exit, the top of them painted in a smooth white. The walls themselves were broken up with classroom doors and posters or paintings that graced the rest of them. Faye had made a mental note last week to take a moment and look at some of the paintings that always caught her eye as she left each lesson but now wasn't that time. The wind on her face was a welcome distraction, although it wasn't a cold breeze, more a crisp one that held the undertones of summer to it.
Faye walked briskly across the courtyard, ignoring everything else around her as she went, intent on just getting to the sanctuary of her dorm room as quickly as she could. She contemplated putting her headphones on but paranoia still clung to her so she decided best to be able to hear everything clearly for now.
After walking for a while, the white pavement under her feet morphed suddenly into green grass and without having to look up Faye knew she had arrived at her dorm building. It was the same red brick as the other buildings and about 5 storeys high. Across the front stood the entrance that jutted a little outwards than the rest and in the middle above the doors lay the words, River towers, in white. The white-rimmed glass doors were ajar and as Faye walked through them she closed them behind her, slightly annoyed at whoever kept leaving them open. Their dorm wasn't filled with heat on a good day and the culprit was letting whatever heat there was out.
Her room lay on the 1st floor and thankfully was one of the few singles in the building. Her mother had tried to convince her to get a double but Faye couldn't think of anything worse. They had compromised on staying on campus but with her own space seeing as Faye had chosen this college to stay close to home. But apparently, that wasn't having the full college experience and wouldn't help her make friends. Faye didn't want to make friends, she just wanted to be left alone.
The dorm itself was quiet, having most of its occupants in class or asleep at that moment. Faye loved the silence, thankful a certain someone wasn't there to ruin it. Avery had yet to appear to her at college strangely. He had been another reason she had needed her own space, knowing full well if she had a roommate they would notice when she started shouting at thin air.
She threw herself onto her bed the second her door shut behind her, dropping her bag ungracefully to the side. Her next class didn't start until 11 which was over an hour away but still didn't leave her alot of time to do anything productive. Too short to nap, too long to just lie there doing nothing. After a few minutes of silence, boredom started to niggle at her limbs, making them restless. She reached into her backpack whilst still laid on the bed, a silent lazy challenge to herself to see if she could get it without having to stand. She congratulated herself when her fingertips glanced one of the straps, pulling it up onto the bed beside her. She took out her notebook and pens that were both haphazardly shoved inside and started to doodle across the first clean page she got to.
The hour passed quickly, doodles expanding across many pages by the time Faye needed to leave. Biology was her next class and not one of her favourites so she had less than a little enthusiasm. She tried to get lost in her doodles again but the ticking of the clock kept invading her focus, each tick a reminder that she was going to be late... again. And being late hadn't worked out well for her so far that day.
She angrily closed her book, once again taking her frustration on the inanimate object and not the actual cause but she didn't have time to the therapize herself. She heavily threw her book and pencil case haphazardly into her bag, annoyance growing when it wouldn't fit easily. Faye growled loudly as she forced them inside before rushing out the door.
As she made it to room 3b she barely noticed how calm and quiet her surroundings were until she was already stood in the middle of the room. Everyone had taken their seats, books and pens in hand as the blonde, middle-aged teacher stood before the whiteboard, clearly midway through a sentence before Faye's accidental interruption. The reason she had ditched psychology was now playing out in biology instead. No avoiding it apparently. The teacher cleared her throat, eyes fixed on Faye as her own darted around the room. She was desperately trying to find an empty seat but her mind was in a scramble, sheer panic overwhelming her so all she could do was stand still.
"Please find a seat," the teacher instructed, voice shrill after another few seconds where Faye remained stood in the exact same spot. The sound seemed to jolt Faye into movement, coinciding with her eyes falling upon an empty seat. She rushed over and sat heavily, causing the chair to tip under her weight. An arm shot out behind her as if by magic, catching the chair and saving Faye from yet more embarrassment. She looked over at her saviour to find it was Kellan from the library. The smile dropped from her face, replaced with a frown as she busied herself with her bag and tried to ignore his very presence.