“Listen, I’m just as upset about this as you are.” He said, leaning back in this chair, “But you need to actually try.”
“I am trying.” I snapped, throwing the pencil down, causing it to make a mark on the paper.
He ran his fingers through his long blonde hair that was usually styled up but was left natural today, “Shay, you-“
“My name is Shayla, not Shay.” I crossed my arms over my chest. “How would you like it if I called you Lucas instead of Luke? That’s not your name, is it?”
“What’s the square root of 64?” Luke asked, changing the subject.
Luke was an average high school boy, despite the fact that unlined his totally innocent appearance he was a total asshole. At the young age of 17 Luke Reynolds has developed the ability to hate anything and everything. No one understands why he’s like that, and not many people bother to find out. Luke was the type of guy that most people at school stayed away from. The rumor around our school is that if Luke wasn’t such an insane math genius he would have dropped out of school in our first semester of freshman year. Luke was all honors classes at school and passed all of them like it was no big deal. I doubted he enjoyed any of them, since he didn’t seem to enjoy anything.
Unfortunately, my older brother, Logan and Luke’s older brother were good friends. So when the news got to my mother that Luke was exceptionally talented in math, there was no stopping her from offering him money to tutor me over the course of our junior year so I can finally pass out of geometry. And that’s how Luke Reynolds ended up in my dining room on a Saturday afternoon.
“Why don’t you just come back next year? Give me a few months to… study.” I asked, already tired of Luke being in my apartment.
“But then you won’t pass that test make – up and you’ll have to take geometry for the third time.” Luke shrugged. He waited for me to respond with his eyebrows raised.
“You’re not going to like being the only senior still in geometry next year.” Luke cut me off before I could get a sentence out.
“Don’t interrupt me. And I won’t be the only senior in the class.” I said, thinking of my friend Carter, who also hadn’t been able to pass out of the class.
“Listen,” Luke said again. “It’s... what a month, October? Make it to May and I’ll be out of your hair forever.”
“That’s, like 6 months.” I groaned. I was not looking forward to these weekly tutoring sessions from Luke, especially if there wasn’t even a chance of us becoming friends during this time.
“7. It’s 7 months.” Luke tapped his fingers against my dining room table, clearly agitated with my inability to do quick mental math like him.
“Fine, 7. Whatever. Why do you have to be so rude about it?” I contemplated kicking Luke from under the table out of pure annoyance.
“Okay, what’s the square root of 64?” Luke asked, ignoring me again.
“What do square roots have to do with geometry?” I ignored Luke this time, “I thought this was shapes.”
“The book starts out with algebra review, meaning that square roots are involved. You should know this you’ve taken this class already.” Luke rolled his eyes at me.
“8, the square root of 64 is 8.”
“Okay, now plug 8 into that equation up there.” Luke leaned back in his chair again, his bright blue eyes watching my every move.
“Which equation?” I asked, partly because I wanted to get on Luke’s nerves and partly because he had written so many different equations in my notebook that I wasn’t sure which one he was talking about.
“That one.” Luke rolled his eyes again, pointing down at an equation written in his messy handwriting with his pencil.
After another hour of Luke attempting to teach me quadratics, we both decided to call it a day. I wasn’t getting the hang of what he was trying to teach me and Luke was beginning to look at me like I was a hopeless case.
Luke hurried to pack up his things he had brought over, nervously cleaning up the small mess he had made on the table. Though I had only known Luke for a very short time, this seemed oddly out of character for him. He always seemed so put together, not the type to be fumbling around with books and dropping pencils on the floor.
“Why are you in such a hurry?” I asked, bending down to pick up a pencil that had rolled onto the floor.
“I have to be somewhere.” Luke muttered, not making eye contact with me as our fingers brushed while I handed him the pencil.
“Where?” I questioned again, being my normal nosy self. Luke finally looked up and met my gaze. He blinked a few times before speaking.
“The movie theater.” Luke picked up his backpack and threw it over one of his broad shoulders.
“What, do you have a date or something?” I laughed softly, wondering what could be at the movie theater that would make him want to rush like this.
“No, I work there.” Luke cracked a small smile. I think it was the first time in my entire life that I had seen him smile at all. It wasn’t a big smile, it didn’t show any teeth, but it was nice. Much different than the normal blank expression Luke wore.
“Oh.” I nodded. I followed Luke to my front door, where he was already letting himself out.
“Bye Shay, I’ll see you next week.” Luke said quickly before ducking out the door and slamming it behind him. Once he was gone I turned around and leaned up against the back of the door, replaying the afternoon events in my mind.
No one was home, Logan had gone out with some friends and Mom was doing some grocery shopping. It was just the three of us living in our apartment. My dad didn’t live with us, he moved to Boston a few years ago after mom and him got divorced. Things just weren’t working out between my mom and him. I didn’t mind, I liked it better that way. It was much relaxing now that Logan and I weren’t hearing our parent’s fight every night.
Once I realized that I was doing nothing productive by just sitting here, I decided to go downstairs and find Carter. Carter was one of the only people I talked to outside of school, since we live so close to each other. I wasn’t exactly how we stood with one another. I’d say we were good friends, considering that we spent a lot of time together in and out of school. We just never put a label on our friendship, besides the two of us had only become friends a couple years ago, we stopped being so weirded out by the fact that we lived in the same apartment complex.
I reached the door of the apartment Carter shared with his mom and knocked once before letting myself in. the door was almost always left unlocked when there was someone inside, for reasons unknown to me.
“Carter?” I called out. His apartment seemed empty, but I knew that he was in there, otherwise he wouldn’t have left the door open.
“I’m in here!” Carter’s voice came from hallway. I walked through Carter’s small living room, passed the endless piles upon piles of useless junk laying around the couch and coffee table. Over the few years I’d been friends with Carter I’d learned that his mom was a borderline hoarder. I followed Carter’s voice until I came to the bathroom, where he was sitting on the side of the tub with a bottle of hair dye in his hands.
“What are you doing?” I asked even though the answer was obvious. Carter had a thing for dying his hair. He’s gone from his natural blonde color to dark purple/pink to bleach blonde to blue to who knows what now. Name a color, it’s probably been in Carter’s hair. I have tried to tell him that he’ll end up bald if he keeps dying it, but he never listens.
“Pink, its breast cancer awareness month.” Carter answered quickly, rubbing the hair dye into his hair, which used to be blue.
“I thought you already did pink.” I said, handing him a towel to catch the hair dye that was running down the side of his head.
“I did, accidentally.” Carter let out a laugh. “Are you sure you don’t want to dye your hair? It’s such a boring color.”
“I like my hair, thank you very much.” I defended myself. I happened to think that the light brown shade of my hair was pretty. It was once of those colors that looked like it came from a bottle, but it didn’t.
“Eh” Carter grunted, shaking the bottle once more.
“Besides, I don’t want to risk turning my hair green.” I bit my lip, leaning against the counter.
“That was one time. Anyway, what’s up?” Carter asked, squeezing the last of the hair dye onto his head.
“I’m bored, I thought we could hang out.” I shrugged. It wasn’t unusual for Carter or I to request to just “Hang out.” Us spending time together mainly consisted of the two of us eating and/or watching TV, but I didn’t mind. It was something to do.
“Once I’m done putting this in we’ll do something, yeah?” Carter gestured to the almost empty bottle of hair dye.
“Alright.” I nodded.
“Anything else? Anything new?” Carter asked. He scrunched up his nose at the smell of the dye. You would think he’d be used to it by now, considering the amount of time’s he’s dyed his hair.
“Nothing really, I just- oh wait! Guess who just left my house!” I almost shouted, remembering that I had forgotten to tell Carter about Luke becoming my math tutor.
“Obama?” Carter guessed, giving me a shrug. He was never really good at guessing, which sucked for me because I was a pro at guessing games and always tried to play them with .
“Luke Reynolds.” I rolled my eyes at the thought of him. Despite how excited I was about playing a guessing game with Carter a few seconds ago I was anything but excited about Luke.
“Who?” Carter asked, seeming confused at the mention of Luke’s name, though I knew he had seen Luke around school before.
“You know, Luke. He was in our freshman biology glass until he got switched into honors.” I explained. “He’s tall, blonde.”
“Are you sure you don’t mean Spencer James ?” Michael smirked. Spencer was a guy that hung out with Carter a lot. He was a year older than us, and I had the biggest crush on him. I couldn’t help it, one look at him and I was immediately attracted to him. Carter took every chance he got to bother me about my silly little crush.
“No, I’m pretty sure I mean Luke Reynolds.” I nodded. “I probably would have told you sooner if Spencer was at my house.”
“True, so why was he over?” Carter stood up and wrapped the towel around his neck. He turned on the timer that was resting on the bathroom counter. It began ticking down for 30 minutes.
“He’s just tutoring me in math. Apparently high school students aren’t supposed to take geometry for three years.” I laughed, following Carter out of the bathroom into his kitchen.
“We’re just over achievers, we need to take the class more than once.” Carter shrugged again. “I remember Luke now, He’s that super smart kid right? But he’s kind of a bad-ass too.”
“Yeah, that’s him. I think he’s more of an asshole than a bad-ass.” I chuckled, helping myself to some leftover pizza laying on the counter.
“That’s what I’ve heard.” Carter agreed with me. “That guy’s a genius, I’m kind of looking forward to finding out what college he gets into.”
“He works at the movie theater.” I recalled, thinking of the reason why Luke left in the first place.
“Does he really? Oh my god, we should go see a movie after my hair is done and try to find him!” Carter jumped up and down. He always wanted to go on adventures of sorts, anything to get me into trouble.
“No, that’d be weird.” I shook my head, dismissing Carter’s idea before he could even start planning. Seeing Luke more than necessary was not something I needed to waste my time doing.
“Why? Aren’t you guy’s friends?” Carter wondered out loud. I chuckled slightly at Carter’s remark, Luke and I were anything but friends.
“No, we’re far from friends.” I laughed. Taking a bite of the pizza.
“Then that’ll make finding him at the movie theater even funnier!” Carter began jumping again. I grabbed onto his shoulder to stop him, because I knew that if he jumped too much the hair dye would move around and it wouldn’t turn out right. it had happened before. “Please, shay?”
“Whatever, but you’re paying.” I sighed, giving in to Carter.
“I’m going to pretend that I have a dinner reservation.” Carter whispered to me, running a hand through his newly pink hair. We were in line to buy our movie tickets now, and Luke was behind the cash register.
We waited a few minutes before all the people in front of us and cleared out, and Carter was standing right in front of Luke. He stared at Carter with an expression on his face that let us know he would rather be doing anything else but this. I began to wonder if Luke found joy in anything. I doubled that Luke recognized Carter. Since they had barely seen each other at school, and because he had just dyed his hair.
“Cale, party of 2, please. I have a dinner reservation for 7.” Carter leaned up against the counter, slipping Luke some dollar bills. Luke stared blankly back at Carter, obviously not amused.
“That’ll be $12.38.” Luke bit down on the inside of his cheek, as if he were trying to refrain from saying anything else.
“Aren’t you going to ask what movie we’re seeing?” I popped out from behind Carter. I didn’t even really want to be at the movies in the first place, and seeing some random movie that Luke picked out would not make it any better.
“Cloudy with a chance of meatballs 2.” Luke glared at him, continuing to bite the inside of his cheek.
“But I saw that last weekend.’ Carter said sarcastically, throwing his hands in the air.
“Well, you’re seeing it again.” Luke replied, handing Carter the tickets. He smoothed out his red button up shirt and adjusted his name tag.
“Luke what’s 30% of $15.00?” Another boy walked over to Luke, nervously running his hands through his dark hair. “The calculator on my register won’t work.”
“$4.50.” Luke said quickly, like it took nothing for him to solve that problem.
“Thanks, are these friends of yours?” The boy asked. He turned to the side and I read the little name tag pinned to his shirt, displaying the name “Jason.” In neat, bold letters.
“No, this is Shay and.. pinky… They go to my school.” Luke answered, still not changing the blank expression on his face.
“Shayla.” I corrected him. Hopefully one day he would learn that I didn’t like my whole name. I personally liked the name Shayla, it was much easier.
“My name is actually Carter.” Carter crossed his arms over his chest, looking down at the floor.
Luke stared up at Carter and let his eyes travel up to his hair, “Whatever, pinky.” Luke rolled his eyes again, I had lost track of how many times he had rolled his eyes just today.
“I’m Jason, I’m friends with Luke.” Jason said, holding out a hand for both me and Carter to shake.
“We’re not friends.” Luke shook his head at Jason, denying their friendship. He almost acted like they were friends, but It was meant to be kept secret. Like if word got out that Luke Reynolds had actually made a friend his reputation would be ruined forever.
“Yes, we are.” Jason laughed nervously, giving Luke a playful punch on the arm. He didn’t even flinch.
“Luke doesn’t like the idea of having friends.” I said quietly, looking up at Carter and letting out a laugh.
“Shay, why are you even here? You should go home and study.” Luke scoffed, obviously hearing the comment I’d just made. I didn’t even bother correcting him on my name this time.
“Why don’t you go home and study?” I shot back. I didn’t like the way Luke treated me. I had only spoken to him briefly before today and he already acted as if he despised me. To my knowledge I had done nothing wrong with Luke and if he was going to continue to act like this around me I was going to do the exact same to him.
“I don’t need to study, unlike you. I’m smart, Shay. Really smart. There’s no reason for me to waste my time studying, or helping people like you for that matter. I’m only tutoring you to be nice. So I suggest that you take this seriously or we won’t get anywhere.” Luke looked past me, over my shoulder.
“You’re trying to be nice? Wow, I would have never been able to guess that!” I crossed my arms. “You’ve been nothing but rude to me the minute you walked in my door!”
“Its not called being rude, it’s called ‘I don’t want to be friends with you, so I’m not going to be nice.’ . Luke snapped at me. He slammed the cash register closed and handed Carter back his change.
After a long few seconds of the four of us staring between one another, Jason spoke up. “That was rude.”
“I don’t care, Jason! I’m a rude person, get over it!” Luke yelled. He unclipped his name tag from his shirt and threw it down on the counter, before turning around and began to storm out of the room.
“Where are you going?” Jason called after him.
“On my break!” Luke yelled back.
“You’re break isn’t until-“ Jason started to speak, but was stopped.
“FUCK OFF!” Luke shouted, slamming a door behind him. I let out a big sigh, relieved that he was finally gone, I don’t know how I’ll be able to survive through the year with him.
“He seems nice.” Carter was the first one out of the three to speak.
“He’s not.” Jason shook his head, “We’re friends, but yeah.. he’s not very nice. Not at first, at least.”
“I think the two of us will end up wanting to kill each other before the year is over.” I sighed again, already picturing how hard of a task this was going to be. I’d rather take geometry for the rest of my life than have Luke as my tutor.
“Don’t take what he says to you too hard, he’s a tough guy to figure out. Give him time.” Jason smiled at me.
“I’ll try.” I said brushing a few strands of hair out of my face.
“Well, I better get back to work. Enjoy your movie.” Jason nodded at Carter and I, giving us a small wave.
“I didn’t expect that.” Carter said, now that we were walking down the hallway to find our theater. I looked down at our feet as we walked, watching as they moved in sync with each other.
“Me neither.” I let out a small laugh. “God, I’ve just met him and I already can’t stand him.”
“Don’t say that.” Carter chuckled, nudging me with his shoulder.
“Why not?” I questioned. I stopped walking, seeing that we were outside of the theater that our movie was playing in, Carter shrugged, shoving his hands in the front pockets of his black skinny jeans.
“I’ll bet you anything that you’ll fall for him before the year is even half over.”