Chapter 3 - Lunch
I glance up at him and find myself staring at his jaw line and stubble, I slowly follow the trail up his face to his eyes, before meeting his gaze. I quickly snap out of my staring and say “Oops sorry”. Before looking back at my tray.
He looks down and me and... silence. He just stares confusingly at me.
Well that’s rude, I say to myself. Maybe don’t stand so close, Harris, and I won’t bang into you. But then I immediately think that I am being harsh and that maybe he just doesn’t have good spacial awareness because he is the size of a lorry.
I’m just about to go back to my sandwich selecting when I hear him take a long slow inhale.
Feeling pressurised by his large prescience behind me, sniffing me. I quickly grab the first sandwich I see, cheese be dammed and rush along the counters to the drinks cabinet only to realise he is still following me.
I hear him sigh. Whilst I’m still annoyed for being rushed I’m also extremely aware that I’m over tired, and possibly overreacting. I can’t tell if it’s him or me who is being rude and I don’t want to be rude to people on my first day at a new college. That would not help me make friends where I will be at least be spending the next 3 years in my new, permanent, hometown. I put on my big girl pants and put on the nicest sweetest voice and turn politely saying;
“Oh I’m sorry, I’m a newbie, feel free to skip me as I’m going to take a minute or two to see what the selection is”.
He, again, does not respond but continues to look down at me. As I glance down to go back to looking at the drinks I see his tanned hands with white nuckles from gripping onto his tray. Hard. I look back up and meet his eyes, his deep dark brown eyes. Dammit - he has good eyes. The whites are whiter than white and his brown irises looks like chocolate swimming pools that I want to dive into. Against his tanned skin they are like targets that draw you in. I cannot stop staring at his eyes and he doesn’t break eye contact either.
Still feeling dazed from our stare off I take a moment try and compose myself. I take some deep breaths and start counting to ten, this is my grounding technique to clear my head and focus.
I’m standing frozen in my spot. I don’t even realise I am frozen until Finn clears his throat AGAIN which seems to break the daze I am in, AGAIN.
I glance behind him and see his giant friends looking a little confused but remaining silent.
I’m still feeling dazed and not entirely sure what is going on.
I flinch at the sound of the crack. It wasn’t loud - it’s just that we are silent and he’s standing right behind me so I clearly hear it.
“Sorry I’m taking so long, I’m really tired - jet lag and I'm not feeling great ” and then proceed to grab the first drink I see and head straight to the cashiers.
I rush over to my brother who is already sitting at the tables and almost finished his lunch. He examines my tray as I’m taking my seat and says “You took that long to pick a sandwich and a drink?”
I reply “I’m so tired I can’t even think straight, my brain feels like mush”.
“I’ll grab us some coffee”. He says before standing up and grabbing some money out of his wallet. Just as he is about to walk off I quickly grab his arm and pull him lower and whisper “can you just quickly smell me”.
My brother looks at me with utter disgust and says “WHAT? Ew, no. Why?”
I lower my head as if that’s somehow going to make my whisper quieter and say “I think the big guy, Harris is his name, sniffed me in the queue and he’s made me paranoid”.
At that moment loud laughter comes from across the food court and it looks like it’s coming from Finn and Chris, Harris’ friends. Loud hearty laughs. The joke was obviously on the Harris who was staring at my brother and me we with a mixture of anger, frustration and amusement, maybe?
I turn to my brother with panic in my eyes and say “I whispered that, right? They couldn’t possibly have heard me? That’s just a coincidence, right? Right?!”.
My brother laughs and responds “No, no. You whispered. That’s just a coincidence and you are correct. You are being paranoid.”
I rub the temples of my head before responding “I think I’m losing my mind. You know tiredness can bring on psychosis”.
He laughs with a “yes, chronic tiredness, like tortured prisoners of war. Not college students with jet lag for two days. But regardless, I’m not smelling you. I’ll never get a girlfriend if I’m the creepy fucking brother who sniffs his sister”.
He walks off to get us coffee and I quickly try to sneak another glance at Harris only to see he is already staring at me. I snap my eyes away. Dammit!! I didn’t want to get caught checking him out! He’ll think I’m interested when it’s more like he’s a car crash that I can’t not look at. It’s wrong, but I can’t help it.
I’m sitting at the table with my head in my hands trying to break through the fuzz and get some clarity when I feel a presence sitting beside me. I look up to see the girl from earlier.
She gives me a look that has a flash of relief in it before casually taking a drink of her coffee and sitting back comfortably like we have been friends our entire lives. I love this girl. She joins my brother and I for the rest of lunch and we keep our conversation light and mainly about the town and college.
We drink our coffee then head off to our next classes with one new friend a day earlier than anticipated. This school is full of surprises.
I drift through my final classes in a daze before my brother and I walk home. The classes were a complete blur, and I could not tell anyone one thing from them if my life depended on it. At least I know how my weekend is going to be spent - going over those classes again. I’m already weeks behind, I can’t get any further.
As soon as we walk in the house I stop my dad before he starts his 20 questions and tell him I cannot function anymore and need to go to bed, before giving him a peck on the cheek and walking upstairs.
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