O N E
“Ugh, today has been a horrible day! It all started when that twerp spilled his coffee on me! And as if that wasn’t bad enough, he looked at me like it was my fault! Can you believe that? He was the one not watching where he was going! He just had to spill coffee on my favorite t-shirt... My favorite blue and white t-shirt. What a jerk! He didn’t even apologize! Why, if I ever see him again I’m gonna...” I huff to my best friend Sara, banging my head down on the lunch table at the memory of what happened this morning.
“Some people, I swear. They just don’t care about other people. Who was it? I’ll help you hide the body,” Sara teases, looking around the cafeteria.
“I think he’s new. I’ve never seen him here before, and I don’t remember him from high school. But he was tall, had dark eyes and annoyingly smooth skin, and his hair was... well, it was red, but it looked like it was dyed that color because it was pretty bright. He was wearing a black sweater... Oh look, he just walked in,” I explain, pointing towards the cafeteria doors at the boy who had just walked in, looking irritatingly similar to a model and acting like he was too cool to be in college with the rest of us.
(if anyone likes EXO, it's Chanyeol from the Lotto era, or at least the time when he had red hair. if you don't know what i'm talking about, you can look it up)
“No way,” Sara’s eyes widen as she sees the boy, laughing soon after, “No way! I can’t believe it! That’s the guy who spilled his coffee on you? Well, you better prepare yourself because he’s coming over here.”
“Wait, what!? Why!?” I panic, grabbing Sara by the shoulders and trying not to hyperventilate. There’s no way I’ll be able to sit near that guy without punching something... or falling for his smile and model-like appearance. Why is he even coming over here?
“I was going to tell you about it before, but then you started talking about how some guy spilled coffee all over you. It just so happens that this guy is my friend from when I was really little. He’s basically my brother. Since he’s new here, I invited him to sit with us. I didn’t really think it’d be a problem, but that was before I knew he was a jerk to you...” Sara’s laughter turns into awkwardness as the guy approaches.
The boy stops about three feet away from the table and glares at me. He hisses at me, “You…”
“Uh, hey Li. This is my best friend Kaitlin Ross. Kait, this is my, basically, brother Liam Song. I hope you’ll get along well~” Sara chimes, laughing awkwardly as Liam sits down next to her without saying another word. I don’t say anything either. Why would I? He’s obviously not making any effort to be friendly.
Sara clears her throat, “So, Liam why don’t you tell Kaitlin a little bit about yourself so she doesn’t think you’re a complete arrogant jerk?”
Liam finally looks up from his tray of food and scowls at me, “My name is Liam, obviously. I’m twenty-one and play baseball and soccer. I moved here from Washington where I previously attended Washington State University until I saw that UCLA offered an education style that works for me. I was taking a break from school and was offered a scholarship here for my grades and athletics. Originally I applied here but declined the offer when I decided to go to WSU, but when I stopped going to WSU, UCLA continued to offer me the scholarship. I’m studying law enforcement and I hope to be a police officer here in LA after I graduate. I don’t like stuck up girls who think they’re too good to apologize for anything.”
I scoff and roll my eyes, looking to Sara for support. She only gives me a half-hearted smile and gestures for me to introduce myself. I sigh and cross my arms, glaring at Liam, “My name is Kaitlin, and for your information, I’m not a stuck up girl who thinks I’m too good to apologize for anything. You’re the one who ran into me and spilled coffee all over me. But that’s enough of that. I’m twenty years old. I mainly play softball and volleyball, but I also swim and play soccer. I’m a history major and hope to graduate and become a history teacher for a high school somewhere here in LA. I prefer guys who don’t dump coffee on me the first time we meet without apologizing afterward.”
Sara intervenes before either of us can say something we really regret, “Okay, that’s enough. Let’s just... uh, let’s just start over. Forget about the coffee thing, yeah? I mean, obviously, Liam didn’t mean to spill coffee all over you Kait, and you were both in too much of a rush to really apologize properly, you know?”
I can see how much Liam and I getting along means to Sara. Which is why I take a deep breath, count to ten, and decide to be a big girl about this, “You’re right Sara. I’m sorry I didn’t apologize earlier, Liam. I was in a hurry to get to my World History class and was just frustrated to be covered in coffee. I didn’t think about how you felt. We should start over.”
Liam looks reluctant, but he looks at Sara and sees the look in her eyes, and for a moment, I see him go soft. He gives her a light smile and turns back to me, taking a breath while studying me. Eventually, he sighs and leans across the table, his hand outstretched, “I’m sorry about earlier too. You seem like a pretty cool person. I hope we can move past this and be friends.”
I knew he didn’t mean it. I didn’t really mean what I had said either, but we would pretend. For now at least. There was one thing both of us had in common… Neither of us could bear to hurt Sara in any way. So for now, we would pretend to be friends, but there was no guaranteeing it could ever actually happen.
“So, when did you and Sara become friends?” Liam asks, poking at his oddly colored cafeteria jello with a plastic spoon.
I smile, fondly recalling the moment Sara and I met, “Hm, I think it was around fourth or fifth grade. She had just barely moved schools and didn’t really know anyone. I didn’t really have any friends because all of mine had suddenly ganged up against me, so I was the odd one out. When Sara came, I decided I was going to be the first one she became friends with. And as it turned out for those few years, I was the only person she became friends with. Of course, being the social butterfly she is, Sara had tons of other little acquaintances, but I was her friend. And to me, that made the world just a little bit brighter.”
“Aw, Kait~” Sara coos, pinching my cheek and throwing her arms around me, “You’re so sweet! I love you!”
I giggle, hugging Sara back, “And I love you.”
“I forgot how gross girls are,” Liam jokes from across the table. Sara glares at him playfully until he throws his hands up in surrender, “Hey, I’m just saying. If it were me with my guy friends, we wouldn’t just randomly go around hugging and proclaiming our love for each other.”
Sara sighs dramatically, throwing one hand in the air, “You just don’t understand Liam! It’s because you’ve never had someone to love before!”
His gaze darkens for a moment, but the dark look is gone as soon as it appears, and I’m left wondering if it was really ever there at all, “You’re not wrong there. I’ve never even had a girlfriend.”
After he says that, I turn to Sara, shocked. Needless to say, I end up choking on my water and coughing until I feel like I should just die of embarrassment. Liam just looks at me funny while Sara shakes her head as if to say, “Not again Kaitlin Marie Ross, what is wrong with you?” The answer to that would be, well, everything. I’m an unusual person, but I wouldn’t say that’s a bad thing.
“Hey Sara, do you have any more classes today?” I ask once I’m finished choking on water and air.
“Hm, just one more after this and then I’m done, why?”
“Well, I was gonna head to the little cafe near the campus, but I wanted to go with you, so I’ll wait until your next class is over. If… if you want to come too, Liam, once your classes are finished, you can. I’m sure you want to spend time with Sara to catch up.”
Liam’s eyes light up, just a little bit, and the teensiest smile creeps across his face. He looks down, his smile growing wider and for a moment, I think maybe he does have a heart, “I would like that. And uh, can I have your number? You know, since we’re friends and all now.”
I look at him suspiciously. Nevermind, I was wrong. He's just a good actor, and I can tell he doesn’t want my phone number because we’re friends. The mischievous smirk playing on his lips says otherwise. I must say, I am curious to find out what he wants, so I’ll play his game… for now.
“Sure! Just call or text me whenever. If you have any questions or need me to show you around or something, I’d be happy to,” I chirp, grinning back at him playfully.
Sara smiles at us. She looks relieved, “I’m happy to see you two getting along so well already! I knew you’d like each other.”
“Ah well, you’ve always been good at choosing your friends Sara. It’s no wonder we get along so well, we all share similar interests,” Liam answers in his deep voice, his eyes glued on me. I feel almost uncomfortable beneath his gaze… but I won’t break. Liam continues to stare at me, speaking softly, “Would you like to go to the cafe with me while Sara is in class? You don’t have anything after this, right?”
“Uh, s-sure,” I stutter, taken aback by his sudden offer. Once again, he seems like he’s being friendly, but I have my doubts, “We’ll have to stop by my dorm before though so I can change…”
Liam nods and watches as Sara checks the time on her iPhone, frowning when she sees what time it is. She sighs and begins packing up her stuff. Quickly, she hugs me, whispering in my ear, “I hope you two get together,” before giggling and running off. I stare after her with an annoyed look on my face.
I stand up, stretching a bit before grabbing my trash and my book bag. Liam stands too, hurrying so he can walk with me. He probably just wants to torment me. I can see that evil smirk of his without even looking at him. I throw my trash away and head to the dorms. Once I get to my room, I pull out my key and quickly make my way inside, dropping my book bag on my bed and going into the bathroom Sara and I share with the room next door, to change into clothes that aren’t stained with coffee.
I pulled something from my closet quickly, so I hope at least one outfit matches okay. I grabbed a yellow sweater, a pink t-shirt, a white skirt, a black skirt, and a pair of jeans. Sara is my go-to gal for fashion advice so I imagine what she would say. Sara would say my yellow sweater goes great with my black skirt and that yellow is the best color for me to wear considering the fall season. After pulling the outfit on, I inspect my shoe choice. I don’t have a lot of shoes and I don’t want to wear anything fancy, so I decide to just wear the white converse I’ve been wearing all day. I examine myself in the mirror and decide I look good except for one key thing. My hair. The curly mess decided it didn’t want to cooperate so I quickly pull it into a low messy bun and pray it doesn’t look horrible. Deciding I look presentable, I grab my iPhone off of the counter and walk back into the main part of the room. Liam is sitting on Sara’s bed looking through the small stack of movies we have. Sara and I watch the movies on her laptop sometimes if we have time. When I walk back in, Liam looks up at me and grins widely, holding up the movie he was inspecting
“You guys have The Lion King,” he states, his eyes sparkling as he places all the movies back where they were before, “I love The Lion King. Sara and I used to watch it together all the time when we were younger.”
I smile at the thought of a little Sara sitting with her eyes glued to a TV screen, intently watching The Lion King, “Sara and I watch it together whenever we have time. We both agree that it’s one of the best Disney movies.”
“Personally, my favorite Disney movie is Aladdin, but I’ve always loved The Lion King,” Liam says, walking with me out of my dorm room.
“You probably only like Aladdin because it’s about a thieving street rat that falls in love with a rich princess,” I tease, wondering if he really has decided to be nicer to me.
As we walk to the cafe, neither of us says a word. The only sound is our feet hitting the pavement and Liam’s soft humming to a song I know but can’t quite name. Maybe he’s not such a bad guy…
“So… uh, do you have any siblings?” I ask, trying to make conversation.
He looks at me, confusion written all over his face before the mask covers his emotions again and he looks forward with a cold expression once more, “Why do you care?”
“Just trying to make conversation, jeez…” I mumble picking at a loose thread on my sweater sleeve and sighing. Wrong again, I guess. He’s still not being very nice.
The rest of the walk to the cafe is silent and Liam’s humming has ceased. He feels… unapproachable. How is he even Sara’s friend? They’re completely different. Sara is always so open and bubbly and happy, and Liam… well so far he’s just been closed off, rude, and frowny. Maybe it’s true that opposites attract. Or maybe he’s just changed a lot since the last time he and Sara were together.
When we get to the cafe, I walk in first and find a table with enough seats for Liam and I and Sara when she gets here. The waitress, a girl I recognize from my World History class, makes her way towards us almost immediately, asking for our order.
“Hm, I’ll just have a vanilla hazelnut latte and a blueberry scone,” I answer, closing the cute little menu and placing it down on the table.
“Would you like whipped cream on your coffee?”
“Yes please,” I smile, thanking her.
“Alright,” she smiles back, “And for you sir?”
“I’ll have a vanilla hazelnut latte as well. No whipped cream,” Liam orders, winking at the girl, her name tag reads Jordynn, which flusters her. I can tell she thinks he’s cute. He may be a jerk, but there’s no denying he’s attractive. If he wasn’t such a jerk, I may fall for him myself.
“I’ll have those right out for you!” Jordynn chirps cheerily, putting her pen in her apron pocket and picking up the menus from the table.
Liam stares at me once Jordynn leaves, making me feel awkward and uncomfortable. He doesn’t say anything until after Jordynn brings our orders and then leaves again. I figure he doesn’t want to be interrupted by her coming and dropping stuff off. It still makes me feel uneasy and I’m not sure if I can trust him.
“So, what’s your most memorable moment with Sara?” Liam asks leaning back in his seat and folding his arms over his chest, the most serious look on his face. It's like he's interrogating me. He's acting like he's her father, inspecting her boyfriend she's brought over for the first time. I’m almost afraid to answer.
“Well… there was this time in ninth grade when Sara and I were having a sleepover and her older brother went to bed before us, so while he was sleeping, we snuck into his room and wrote the word ‘glitter’ in big letters on his forehead in Crayola marker. We didn’t want to use permanent marker because then we would have really been in trouble. Then we grabbed, like, two big bags of Doritos from her pantry and watched music videos, fangirled, and ate chips until four a.m. We had such a great time and laughed a lot. We always laugh a lot when we’re together.”
“Hmm… I see. Is she only in your life to make you laugh? Is she only around for your pleasure?” Liam squints at me, slowly sipping his coffee and tapping his fingers on the table and leaning towards me.
“Of course not. That’s just one of the perks of being her friend. She’s someone who makes me a better person. She always gives me a reason to be positive. I feel like I can always go to her when I need advice or I’m upset, and I feel like I’m that person for her. She’s honestly such a good person, and these days, it’s really hard to find a genuinely good person,” I whisper, remembering every time Sara’s ever been there for me or made me laugh when I was crying.
Liam seems satisfied with this answer so he leans away from me and crosses his arms again, examining me in a way that makes me nervous, as always. He’s so quiet. I wonder what he’s thinking about? I wonder what images flash behind his beautiful, dark eyes. I mean… what?
We sit in an uncomfortable silence for a while, Liam eventually pulling out his phone while I take out a book from my sling bag. I try to ignore his gaze while I read, but I’m aware of his cold stare as I read. Finally, I’m able to immerse myself in a world that’s not my own and I forget where I am altogether. I forget who I’m with and who’s around me. I lose my sense of time, and I become a part of a world that seems impossible.
I hear a distant voice calling my name, but I ignore it until it gets louder, “Kaitlin!”
“Hm?” I hum, my head snapping up to look at the boy before me. He looks annoyed, so I sigh and place my bookmark in my book and close it, pushing it aside.
“I’ve called for you five times now,” Liam pouts, crossing his arms. He almost looks cute. If he wasn’t such a jerk, he would definitely be my type.
“What do you need,” I rest my cheek in the palm of my hand, staring at him, boredom clear on my face.
“Well, I just realized I have to head to soccer practice, would you mind telling Sara I’m sorry I couldn’t stay for coffee?” Liam rubs the back of his neck sheepishly.
I scoff and cross my arms, rolling my eyes, “Fine. I’ll tell Sara. I think I have soccer practice now as well and so does she.”
I stand up quickly and leave him sitting there, staring at me confusedly. Oh well. I don’t care. He’s only been a jerk to me so I can’t help but be irritated at him. I take out my phone and send a quick text to Sara letting her know that Liam and I both forgot we had soccer practice so we weren’t able to stay for coffee.
She read the message but didn’t text me back. When I got to the dressing rooms in the gym, I saw Sara frowning at her phone. Walking over to her, I hug her from behind, resting my chin on her shoulder, “What’s wrong Sara?”
“I’m just upset that I forgot I had soccer practice. I really wanted to talk with you and Liam some more, but… well, I guess I can’t now. Maybe if there’s time after practice… but I need to study for my test… and you have to study for your upcoming history exam… and I’m sure Liam has to do stuff for school…” Sara murmurs sadly, “I can’t believe I’m so forgetful. Ah well. Did you and Liam at least have some time to get to know each other?”
I froze, making sure I was careful with what I said, “Uh, yeah. We talked for a bit. Then he kinda did stuff on his phone so I just read… He doesn’t really seem interested in me.”
“Hm, well Liam’s always been kind of shy and reserved. Don’t worry too much about him. He’ll come around eventually,” Sara hums, finishing getting ready for soccer practice and leaving me to finish lacing up my cleats without her.
The first person I see when I hop out of the dressing rooms, still rolling my socks over my shin guards, is the last person I want to see for awhile. Liam Song. He’s so irritating. He seems like he could be a gentleman, but really, he’s just a major jerk. Our eyes meet for a split second and then he looks away, refusing to even acknowledge me. It’s fine. Two can play that game.
I meet Sara on the field, tossing my bag down on the freshly cut grass where the other bags are. Sara and I head over to jump in the warm-up lines together. We go through our usual warmups and go to get our balls. Sara looks at me. “Partners?” she asks.
“Duh,” I reply. We pass for a while, then do volleys, chests, and headers like normal. Today isn’t a conditioning day, thankfully, so after everyone is done our coach heads over to split us into teams. He points at me.
“Yellow,” he says gesturing towards the pile of yellow jerseys. I grab one and slip it on, even though it smells disgusting. I look up as he points at Sara. “Orange,” he says, and I sigh. He almost never puts us on the same team for scrimmaging. At least I get to push her around and make her work hard. Both of us play wing, so we usually get to defend each other, which is fun.
We scrimmage for about an hour, stopping for water and coaching occasionally. When we’re finally done, I walk over to the bags with Sara, wiping the sweat from my forehead and breathing heavily. I glance over to where the boys' soccer team is finishing up practice as well and catch a glimpse of Liam talking and laughing with his teammates. Maybe he is nice, just not to me…
As Sara and I gather our things and get ready to head into the locker rooms to change, the boys' team rushes past us and I scoff at their immaturity. You would think that they’d be more mature considering their ages, but noooo. I’m turning to walk into the locker rooms when I find myself knocking into a person. A very muscular and tall person. Who just so happens to be… Liam. Could this day get any worse? Why does the universe hate me so much?
“Ugh, watch where you’re goin― uh, uhm, s-sorry, let me help you up!” Liam growls at first, his voice changing to a more friendly tone when Sara makes her way over.
“Wow Kait, you’re still so clumsy!” Sara giggles, watching as Liam helps me up, “I’m so happy my friends like each other and are getting along so well~”
“Yeah! We’re… totally getting along really well! I, uh, I wouldn’t be surprised if we ended up being best friends by the end of the school year,” I force out, smiling stiffly, “Well, Sara and I had better go get changed so we can get home and finish studying. See you later!”
The locker rooms here are really nice so there’s a lot of showers, meaning multiple girls can shower in privacy at once without having to go all the way to the dorms. After showering quickly, I pull comfortable clothes on and wait for Sara to be done, sitting on the bleachers while I wait, scrolling through Instagram on my phone.
“Hey loser, you should be careful with what you say. We’re most definitely not going to be best friends by the end of the year. You shouldn’t give Sara false hopes. It’s not right,” I hear Liam call. It’s weird how I already know him by his voice. I guess I know him more by the way he talks to me.
“Hm, maybe I actually want to be friends with you. Would it really hurt to try? And what's really not right is lying to her,” I glare at him, crossing my arms and looking him straight in the eye. I’m not afraid of him.
“Well let’s get this straight. I don’t want to be friends with you and I don't want to hurt Sara, okay? So just stay out of my way! I don’t need you. I’m only pretending because I care about Sara. Not you. Just leave me alone.”
He leaves, brushing his hand through his perfect, bright red hair, an exasperated sigh leaving his lips. I rub my temples, trying to ease the headache he’s given me. How Sara could ever become friends with someone like him, I’ll never know.