I wake up to the warm bright sunlight that shines through my bedroom window. Still drunk with sleep I slowly get up from my bed and stretch my arms. Did I finally fall asleep?
For the first time, in what feels like forever, I had a good night's sleep. My eyelids don't feel heavy and my brain doesn't feel like it's numb with exhaustion. I finally feel at peace and ready to go downstairs for some breakfast.
As I wash up for school, I stare at the amulet that Benji gave me last night through the bathroom mirror. It really freaking works. I can't believe I finally fell asleep even sleeping pills that my dad prescribed had any effect. As I put on some makeup before school, I can't help but hum to a little tune in pure bliss. I finally feel like myself because of Benji.
Benji. I don't know what to think about him anymore. Before, I just thought of him as this kid I was tutoring, but it's definitely not like that anymore. Do I actually like him? I've liked Jason for so long, but with Benji in the picture, I don't know if I like Jason the same way. It's like my feelings for Jason are changing into feelings for Benji. I'm not really sure if I really like him, but I definitely know that I feel something for him. I touch up my makeup a little more today and make sure that my dark green eyes really pop out today.
"Good morning," I greet my mom for breakfast.
"Someone seems to have finally gotten some sleep," my mother chirps. She's been claiming this entire time that my insomnia has gotten her so worried sick. I'm sure the ladies of her book club have loved enjoying hearing my mother complain about how "stressed I was about being valedictorian."
"Yeah, this amulet that Benji got really helps," I tell her and show her it.
She examines the amber pendant with a critical eye and says, "That's very nice of him dear." She gets back to eating her bowl of fruit and greek yogurt.
"What amulet?" my father asks as he walks to the table.
"Oh, something Benji gave her," my mother tries to brush it off knowing my father's disdain for any type of remedy that cannot be supported by science.
"I see," my dad says and reads his newspaper without even looking at the necklace.
I let out a small sigh of relief as my father shows his regular indifference for mundane events of my life.
"Cassandra," my dad says my name. Or maybe not.
"Yes?" I ask him nervously.
"Your college gear came in today," he tells me with a smile in his face.
"Oh really? That's great," I tell him with my well-practiced fake smile.
I know. I suck. I was supposed to cancel my application to my school, but I never got to it. I can make all the excuses I want about being distracted by everything known, as Benji, but that would be a lie. But, in all honesty, I was just too scared.
"I want you to know that I'm very proud of you Cassandra," my dad says with a rare proud smile. How could I disobey my father when he looks so happy? Plus, I'll be going to one of the top colleges in the nation, so I can always find a way to make myself like the school.
"Thanks dad," I tell him. "I think it's time for me to go to school," I announce and leave.
"Have a good day sweetie," my mom tells me.
I escape my parents and drive to school to face another dreaded force, Benji. I feel like I've already been down this road before. How do I face Benji?
I carefully walk up to my locker while looking around my surroundings constantly to check for any signs of Benji. Just as I grab for my notebook, Benji hugs me from behind and greets me, "Good morning, mein schatzi!"
Oh god. My heart beats at the speed of light while I suddenly start sweating nervously. How does he do this every time?
I turn around slowly and finally face him, and I finally have my answer. I stare at his light brown eyes that crinkle when he smiles or whenever he tells me something that happened during his day, his sharp, long nose that sniffs around whenever he smells something good or something bad, or his pouty lips that always don't have the annoying tilt that other guys have. Benji never smirks, but give big smiles that genuinely shows how happy. Oh god. I like him. I really like him, and there's no turning back.
"Casey, are you alright?" he asks me worriedly and puts his forehead on mine to check my temperature. "You seem fine," he says while looking directly in my eyes through his thick lashes.
"I…" need to leave. "Bye," I tell him quickly and tear my forehead from his before quickly walking off to my class.
Oh god. I like Benji. What am I going to do?
"Hey, Forest," I hear Jason greet me.
"Hey," I tell him still concentrating on my own thoughts. It's pretty obvious that Benji likes me. It's been pretty obvious since day one.
"So, I think a bunch of us…" he says. I mean, if I just say the word we would start going out right away. But, do I really want to start a relationship? I'm going away to college after I graduate, and he's still going to be here.
"… study group." Then again, I haven't been in a relationship all through out high school mostly, because I was pining over Jason this entire time. I did try to go on dates with some guys, but those were total failures. I feel like I would enjoy being in a relationship with Benji. I smile at all the possibilities of the future.
"Since A.P. exams are coming up…" I feel like… no. I know that I would have fun with Benji. But, I don't think I would ever confess to him like that. No. I know that I would never be the first one to confess. Nope. I don't think I would ever be able to do that.
"Hello? Hello," Jason waves his hand in front of my face.
"Huh?" I snap out of my own thoughts. "What?" I ask him.
"Forest. Have you been listening to anything I said?" he cocks his eyebrow in amusement.
"Uh… No." I tell him honestly.
"Well, I know that a bunch of us are going to do a study group for the upcoming exams. Do you want to come?" he asks me, but I'm not really listening because I'm fantasizing about date possibilities with Benji.
"Sure," I tell him offhandedly.
"That's great. We're meeting up this Saturday, and I'll text you where we'll meet."
"Mhm," I mumble and on cue, our English teacher starts the class before he could say anything and return to my own thoughts.
"I don't know if I saw this correctly, but did you really blow off Jason?" Diane asks me while I munch on my sandwich.
"What?" I ask her. What does she mean about blowing him off?
"I saw that interaction between you two during English today, and that was the first time I ever saw you totally blowing him off."
"What are you talking about?" I ask her having no idea what she's talking about.
"He asked you to that study group we're all doing together," she tells me getting impatient at me for my total ignorance about the issue.
"He did?" I asked her in shock. Did he? I don't remember. All I really heard was something about Saturday… meeting… study… Oh crap. He did, and I did totally blow him off.
"Oh. My. God," I enunciate each word. "I did," I say totally mortified.
"That can only mean one thing," Jane says with a devious look in her eyes. "You like someone," she says gleefully.
"No," I deny a little too quickly. I just realized my feelings for Benji. There's no way that I want to announce it yet.
"It's that German boy, isn't it?" Jane asks. Curse Jane for always being able so nosy about issues. Sometimes, I wonder why I'm still friends with her.
"No," I deny once again too quickly.
"It is," she squeals in excitement. Damn it.
"No." I deny, but I can already feel my cheeks heating up. I'm so busted. "I never said I liked him." I quickly get up from the table before anything more embarrassing happens and grab for my things without looking at my friends in the eyes. "I think I have to go talk someone about something," I mumble to quickly excuse myself.
"You mean your cute little German boy about how much you want him," Jane teases crudely.
I ignore her and try to quickly walk out of the cafeteria with whatever dignity that I have left.
"Casey," I hear Benji's voice calling for me. Damn it all. I can't even make it out of the cafeteria without having to hear something about Benji. I turn around to see him walking towards me with the adorable grin on his face that tells me how happy he is to see me. I have a goofy grin on my face when I see him walking towards me, but then I peak over to my evil friends who are giggling at the scene in front of them. I hope they find this very amusing. Not.
"Benji," I say his name two octaves two high. Dogs could hear me with the pitch I say his name. Cassandra Forest, get yourself together. I clear my throat and say "Hi" to him like a normal human being.
"Hey, I was looking for you."
"Really?" I ask him and my ears perk up. A ridiculous girly giggle comes out of my mouth. Oh my god. Did that really come out of my mouth? Just shoot me.
"Are you going anywhere?" he asks me.
"Um… Not anywhere special," I tell him. "I was just going to chill at somewhere quiet in the hallway," I tuck a loose hair behind my ear.
"I'll join you," he says and follows along. I can't help but smile in excitement at the prospect of being alone with Benji.
We both walk and take a seat in the more abandoned hallway of the school that not a lot of people walk through.
"I'm so tired," Benji yawns. "Oh, right! Did you sleep last night?" he asks me.
"I slept so well last night," I tell him happily.
"Really?" a yawn escapes his lips once again as he stretches his arms. "That's great. Make sure you always have that on."
"Alright. Are you okay?" I ask him worriedly. It's very strange to see a usually extremely energetic Benji looking any way close to tired.
"I just slept late last night because I was working on that report," he says. I nod in acknowledgement because we were working on that essay pretty hard yesterday.
"Did you finish it?" I ask him.
"Yeah," he says and yawns again.
"When did you go to sleep?" I ask him curiously.
"I went to sleep around one," he says.
"Only one? That's not that late," I tease him.
I see his ears go slightly pink. "What? I usually sleep really early," he tells me. I'm not surprised that he's an early sleeper. How else could he have that much energy during the day?
I giggle at his cute reaction and tease him more, "I guess it's normal if you were ten."
"Oh, leave me alone," he tells me and leans his head on my shoulder. Oh god. I can hear my heart beating through my chest. His hair tickles my neck as the heart rises through my face. I feel like my whole body is going to go through emotion overload.
"B,Benji," I stutter.
"Let me just rest my eyes for a bit," he sighs and rests on my shoulder.
How could I possibly refuse? Benji is seriously going to be the death of me. I look over to the peacefully sleeping Benji and smile in happiness. I really like this boy sleeping on my shoulder without any care for the world. With no one else in the hallway but the two of us, I turn my head over and kiss him on the top of his head.