Today, Friday the Thirteenth was turning out to be just that. All evil came surrounding me. Well, maybe not evil, just everything was going wrong. I couldn’t get anything right. I forgot my backpack at home and it had everything in it of course. My history report was now running on a week late already, now that I finally got it done, and I couldn’t even get it in today. The money for my lunch was in there too. So I haven’t eaten anything since last night, and that was only some cold pizza that my dad had ordered the day before. I had also decided that today was the day that I would have to tell Matt of my plans for the future. That was before I knew everything was going to be flipped upside down today.
I’d rather have only one day of bad luck than months of it. For the past couple of months my life has seemingly gone quite right. Everything I have wanted has come my way. Today though, I was sure, was going to undo all I have worked so hard to achieve. Right now I was watching the one thing that I truly wanted walk away.
I wanted to just run over to him, and throw my arms around him, tell him that I was sorry. I knew I couldn’t do it though. I meant what I had said. He just didn’t seem to understand that I wanted some time for myself. It seemed he wanted to spend every waking minute with me, and I just couldn’t take it anymore. I wanted to be free. I was leaving in only a couple of months, and instead of prolonging the fondness between us for those short months I wanted it over now. I did like him a lot, but I didn’t want to fall in love with someone that I would be losing right after graduation.
Sitting here, on this bench, I started to wonder how I would get home. I didn’t want to walk the five or so miles to my house. So I continued to sit. I watched as the snow began to fall. It has been unusually warm for this time of year, but it was February so it was bound to snow sometime. As I caught one snow flake on the palm of my hand I began thinking of when my strange luck began. The end of October I think, maybe the beginning of November. It was the last football game of the season. Our team had just lost all chances of entering the playoffs, but that is when it began.
The crowd finally calmed down with the loss of the game. The dance after the game was surely going to be a big sad party, to say the least. During the game Kate took off with Josh, and I was stuck with Mindy and her men. Then it happened after the game while Mindy and I were waiting for Kate and Josh to arrive and drive us to the school, Matt and Brian came. Our knights, well, my knight in shining armor. I began running the whole series of events back through my mind.
While Mindy and I waited she went on about the different guys that she had met earlier that night. No one had taken an interest in me, but I had equally found no one interesting either. From what I had seen most of them were jocks from past years. They were popular in school and for some reason never moved away. Most of them just got dead end jobs here in town, and still think they are all that and a box of rocks. Mindy enjoyed herself though. I guess that is all that counts. Mindy talked until there were only a few vehicles left. Then finally Matt pulled up and offered us a ride. I accepted for both Mindy and me because who knew when Kate would finally show up. I figured that it would have to be sometime because she couldn’t go home without her car. I wasn’t willing to wait that long though.
I wasn’t sure if I was happier because I knew I wouldn’t have to walk, or now that I would have some company other than old jocks and Mindy. Well, trading older jocks for younger jocks is about trading equals, but they were better company. They seemed a little distraught because of losing the game. I couldn’t blame them though. It was their last chance to get into the playoffs. Most of them were counting on a scholarship to get them through college, but that was going to be hard to get now.
“I see Josh and Kate haven’t made it back yet?” Brian said as Matt pulled the car onto the road.
“No, they are probably having way too much fun. We’ll probably see them over at the school here in a little bit though. But in the small chance that we don’t, can we get a ride home?” Mindy answered as she situated herself in the backseat.
“Well, you could always come home with us. Well me, that is.” Brian turned and looked back at Mindy.
“That solves my problem for being lonely for the night.” She smiled back at the invitation.
Brian turned back around in the front seat. The rest of the ride was quiet until Matt turned on the music. He blasted it for the last two minutes of the ride. It was nice to have music, but I was sure that I would be deaf by the time we got there. When the engine was shut off the music stopped and my ears started ringing. Everything sounded muffled as we got out, and I could hear the music coming from inside the school. I knew it would be just as loud in there, but at least it was spaced out more than the backseat of Matt’s car. After we got out of the car and headed up to the doors of the school Brian threw his arm around Mindy. I assumed it was his way of claiming her for the night. Mindy didn’t seem to mind as she put her arm around his waist. They went ahead of us into the school.
The door wasn’t completely closed when Matt opened it back up, “Ladies first.”
“No problem. So how has your night gone so far?” He said as he motioned me through the door.
“Well, it has been quite boring to tell you the truth. How about you? Are you allowed to play yet?” I inquired as I waited for him to come through the door.
“Yeah, but I didn’t get to play tonight though. I could have gotten us to the playoffs. The coach said that he didn’t want me to get hurt though.”
We reached the lunchroom where the music was blasting. I looked at the shut door, and realized that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go in there just yet. Not after the other day, and my panic attack. Well, at least that is what the doctor said it was. I realized that Matt was just staring at me while I watched the doors.
“Do you mind if I sit out here for a little? I don’t think my ears are ready yet. You can go in. Just give me a moment to go get a soda.” I lied.
He started rummaging through his pockets, “Here let me get this.”
I sighed as I walked over to a bench by the door that we just came through. I started wondering why he was being so generous all of a sudden. He never acted like this during school. It might have been because tonight we weren’t surrounded by a huge group of people. Maybe he was always this nice and I just never noticed. I watched him as he started pushing every button on the machine. Finally he pulled a soda from the bottom of the machine. While he was walking back towards me I noticed that he had a slight limp since he broke his leg.
He sat down beside me and handed over an orange soda. “Sorry, but that is all that would come out. I hope you don’t mind.”
“No, it’s fine. Thank you. Can I ask you something?”
“Shoot.” He smiled at me.
“How did you break your leg?” I opened my soda and took a small drink. It was cold and flat. How nice.
Matt started laughing, “I thought everyone knew that story. Plus with you hanging with Mindy, I figured you would be one of the first people to know.”
“Well, I heard a couple of different stories, but I figured I would have to ask you for the truth.”
“Tell me one.”
“One what?” I looked at him puzzled.
“What is one of the stories that you heard?”
“That someone hit you with a baseball bat because you bet them to or something like that. I don’t know it sounded stupid so I didn’t really listen.”
He smiled, “That would be one good way to get a broken bone, but it was a car accident. It was kind of weird though I was just on the other side of town. I went to the mall and I was on my way back, driving down the road. It was a nice clear day, so I was going a little fast. I was switching CDs, and I was paying attention to the road. No matter what anyone says, I was paying attention. I suddenly noticed something on the road. I slammed on the brakes. Well, to make the story short, I ended up in a tree.”
“What did you see on the road?”
He looked into my eyes, “You wouldn’t believe me. Even if you did you would think I was crazy.”
“What was it?” I urged.
“There was a guy standing in the middle of the road. After I wrecked I got out and he was gone. I, of course, couldn’t walk to find him, because my leg was broken in two different places, but he couldn’t have just disappeared.”
Yeah, I did think he was a little crazy, but I didn’t really care. He seemed to be telling the truth. I nodded towards his leg, “You still limp though.”
“Yeah, but I am allowed to play football again. I was hoping to get a scholarship and get out of this town. Can I have a drink of that?” He reached for my hands.
“Sure,” I handed him the soda, “You know nobody gets out of this place. It is like a sand pit, the harder you try to get out, the faster it pulls you in.”
“True, but your mom got out. You know this is flat.” He handed the soda back to me.
“I know.” Why did my mom come into this conversation, I asked myself?
The D.J. then came over the loudspeaker. I wasn’t sure what he said, but then everyone started cheering inside the lunchroom. We are the Champions by Queen started playing. I guess that cheered up everyone in there. I wasn’t sure how it fit though because we had lost. Maybe they were hoping for next year or something. I turned to Matt, “So do you feel like a champion tonight?”
“No, but maybe I could change that by the end of tonight.” He lifted his head and looked into my eyes.
“What do you mean?” I looked down at my feet. I had a slight idea of what he meant. No one has ever said anything like that to me though. I was just thinking at the beginning of the night, how nice it would be to have someone to hold me tight, and love me. I wanted what everyone else around me seemed to have. I wanted to be loved. I wanted to love someone with all my might. I was sure though that I would die an old maid. I wasn’t gorgeous like Kate, and I wasn’t flirtatious like Mindy. I was the quiet red head that sat beside the two.
“Hey, do you want to get out of here and go watch a movie or something?” He said with a huge grin that stretched across his face.
“Um, I don’t know. I was supposed to stay with Kate tonight.”
“I’ll take you there afterward. I mean I’ll be a complete gentleman and everything. It just seems like you don’t want to be here. That is all.” He seemed innocent enough. I still didn’t understand what he meant by the first comment about being a champion by the end of the night. He looked at me for the first time using his sad little puppy dog look. There was no way I could say no to that.
I stared into his dark brown eyes, and almost forgot what he told me. Suddenly Matt’s cell phone started ringing some weird little tune. It brought me back into reality. He didn’t take his eyes off of me until he got the phone completely out of his pocket. He briefly looked to see who was calling. As he opened it and answered his eyes came back into mine.
“Yes?” He paused while listening to whoever was on the other side of the conversation, “Is she okay? Yeah, no problem. Well, I think. Mindy was planning to spend the night with Brian. Yep. I got it covered.” He shut the phone, and placed it back in his pocket.
“Who was that?”
“Josh. He said that Kate got sick or something so he was taking her home. He was wondering if I could take you and Mindy home.” He glanced down at his watch, “I’m going to head in to see what Brian and Mindy are doing. Do you want to come in with me?”
He stood up and held out his hand. I took it in reply to his question. He helped me up and then I reluctantly let go. We walked across the lobby together and then entered through the closed doors into the lunchroom. The dance was just like any of the others. The DJ had lights set up alongside the speakers blasting loudly. There was a huge crowd of people in the middle of the floor dancing. A couple of smaller groups were spread out around the lunchroom. We both stopped short after our entrance into the room, a bit overwhelmed from the scene. I began looking through the large crowd in the middle of the floor for Mindy. It was extremely hard trying to spot one person in the center of what seemed like over one hundred people in the dark.
Matt then tapped my shoulder to get my attention, and he pointed over to a small group of people standing right in front of the DJ. Then I spotted Mindy as she was looking through the CDs. I followed Matt as we crossed through the crowd towards her. Once we reached Mindy and Brian the music was so loud I knew we would have to lead them away to talk to them. I stood back and let Matt get their attention.
Once they had finally realized they couldn’t hear each other, our small group headed for a corner without people, and away from the speakers. We of course went to the darkest corner in the lunchroom. The only light was from the various light fixtures outside the school shining in through the row of windows. At least here in the corner they could talk. I continued past where they stopped and walked over to the windows that peered out into the back parking lot. I saw Matt explaining to Brian what was going on. After a while Mindy left and headed back to the crowd.
When I turned to look out the window I saw something shining down on the ground. Since the ground was no less than thirty feet below me I had to squint to try to see it clearly. I watched as the shining got brighter and bigger. Suddenly it turned into a bright flash. I caught out of the side of my vision both Matt and Brian stopped talking and turned to look. They must have shrugged it off as one of the DJ’s lights because they continued talking.
I watched as the flash melted away into the form of a man. Wearing what appeared to be a black jacket. It seemed to be too big so it just hung on his shoulders. The shirt underneath seemed to be a similar color, but made of a different material because it had a shine from the light reflecting off of it.
As I began to examine his face I found it difficult with his hair falling over his eyes like a little waterfall. His hair could have been a very light blonde maybe I couldn’t tell because of the poor lighting. It fell just below his jaw line. His lips were straightened, no wait curved up. He was smiling. I couldn’t be certain, but I was sure that it was the man with the eyes. They were the eyes that had been watching me only a couple days before. I watched him take a step forward and held out one hand. I watched as the jacket fall over down to his wrist extending his hand further until his fingers pointed out towards me. After pointing to me, he turned his hand and beckoned me down to him.