2. Arquette For President!
Closing the front door behind me, I called out for the two people I always look for first once I’m back home, “Grammy! Captain!”
Captain immediately came running out of the spare room which Grammy had designed as her parlor.
“Hey, mate!!” I opened my arms and he jumped in to hug me.
Stroking his back and playing along, we made our way to the room. Grammy was playing the piano as usual. I quietly went over and sat beside her, playing the instrument with her in her pace.
“You seem to be in a very good mood,” Grammy smiled at me.
I smiled back with my lips pressed together, nodding, “Yeah.”
“So??” she stopped playing and turned to me, eyebrows raised in a graceful elderly manner.
I stopped playing too and said, “I met a girl. My old crush from elementary.”
Grammy beamed and her eyebrows rose higher, excitement evident. I talk to Grammy about a lot a stuffs but we’d never talked about girls (never had one to talk about).
Feeling pretty infatuated myself, I folded my arms over the keys (the instrument rumbled) and rested my cheek there and looked up at Grammy with a growing smile.
“She must be quite a girl! You seem to like her still.” Grammy grinned back, lowering her chin a little and eyeing me observantly.
I chuckled sort of nervously and shrugged, ”I don’t know ’bout that.”
I really didn’t know. I mean, I’d just only seen her after six years. I really didn’t exactly know if I still like her or something but there was no denying that I was still drawn towards her somehow. Maybe it was because she was the first one I had ever really liked, so maybe the attraction just resurfaced . . . Simply. Maybe it was nothing more than that – some childhood stuff. But if there was one think I really knew, it was that I wanted see her again.
“Get your ass in here!” I grabbed Scott’s collar, laughing, and pulled him inside behind me.
Scott wanted to miss school again. Each and every time we’d finish a tour, Scott was always missing school. He’d say the vibes are still alive in his veins and he just wants to rock. And I just couldn’t let that happen no matter what he sees in his dream. Our attendance was hardly making the mark because of our tours. I was already starting to wonder how we would graduate with this kind of schedule. Even in junior year, we were already this busy.
We were in a band which had become quite a thing now. We called ourselves, REAPERS. So the agency that signed us was sending us to tours after tours before we finally record.
Hart, our English teacher, lifted his eyes towards us the moment we reached the door and he said his line, “Do I have to remind you boys the consequence of being late for class?”
“It won’t happen again, sir,” I replied.
He knew I meant nothing I said. Everybody knew. It was habitual, so it just slipped. No big deal. Did I ever mentioned that the four of us, Matt, Scott, Hunt and me tend to be late most of the time? 70% of the meager attendance we had was late entry.
“You have made that very line my daily bread, son,” Hart returned.
We laughed it off like we always did.
“Welcome your rebel classmates, Alana,” I heard Hart sigh as we walked inside.
And that was when I caught sight of the currently most interesting thing for me on this planet.
There’s my girl.
I felt a notorious smirk grow on my lips. There she was, sitting on the second row was the mongrel-with-an-attitude I met the day before. My focus zeroed in on her. She saw me too. The moment our eyes met, she flicked her gaze away and pretended like she didn’t see me.
You’re gonna have to try harder than that.
I walked straight ahead, never diverting my focus from her. I saw her glance at me from the corner of her eyes and sink into her chair to avoid my attention. I settled in the empty seat right behind her.
I usually was a back bencher with my boys but with her around, I wanted to be near her, learn more about her, get to know her better, memorize her actions and every little thing until I could write a ten miles long essay about her. Don’t ask me why because I honestly don’t have a clue. I just felt that way.
My guys went towards the back as I stayed back behind Mongrel. She wasn’t moving an inch. From the angle her brunette head was angled, I assumed she was staring at her note . . . Motionless. So much for trying to avoid whatever it was about me.
I smirked at myself.
Hart resumed his lecture and she seemed to breathe in relief as her shoulders rose and dropped in a long, deep motion.
Now that’s my que.
I kicked her feet under the table.
She started and looked back at me immediately, her hazel eyes wide open. Being the jerk I was, I stared back at her blankly as if I knew nothing. She blinked few times and stared back at me, confused. I pursed my lips and tried not to laugh.
“Yes, Ms. Lancaster?” Hart asked.
She looked away, turning to Hart, “Yes?”
God, her voice is so soft. Is she speaking cotton language?
She slowly shook her head.
Adorable, I thought.
“Good,” Hart said.
She breathed and her body sunk lower into her chair. I began to chuckle. I was such an ass.
I spent the remaining minutes staring at her; her hair, her shoulders, her slight movements, the almost-unnoticeable rise and fall of her shoulders as she breathed and wondering if she was really paying attention to the lecture or thinking about something else.
It was almost as if I was travelling back in time to elementary. I used to sit at the back with Matt to stare at her or either right behind her and play kicking-her-feet under the desk to grab her attention.
Elementary standard. And I was still using the same strategy even after six years.
Once Hart finished his lecture, marking the end of the class, she began bustling with her books, full throttle like a machine as if she was trying to flee from a time bomb.
I leaned over to her and whispered into her ear, “We meet again, Mongrel.”
She started and spun her face towards me, her wild, wild, hazel eyes wide open and blazing beautifully. She gasped a bit when she found our faces almost touching each other’s. I didn’t mind the proximity a bit. If anything, I kinda liked it. I’d never seen or been this close to her. I stared into her eyes. She stared back at me, peering into my eyes.
I was confident and was sure she wouldn’t affect me in any way but who was I kidding. She was the greatest challenge in my life. The challenge I didn’t win six years ago and I suddenly got the urge to continue fighting that challenge again. Though I knew that this time, the fight was going to be a lot harder.
Before I knew it, I found myself slowly drowning into the hazel ocean in her eyes. The color flecks of her Iris playing with my mind like kaleidoscope patterns, hypnotising me to get lost in the galaxy behind her vision, a whole new universe just for me.
She blinked rapidly and it made me escape my subconsciousness.
“Can’t take your eyes off me?” I teased.
“Huh?” She garbled at first but soon replied, “Yeah. Reminds me of potatoes.”
That did it for me. I cracked up.
Ignoring me, she started fumbling with her books again and turned to Kendra (her childhood best friend), asking her about her next class. She began talking to Brittany too, a red head; literally regarded as the sexiest in school.
I listened to their conversation as I put back my stuff inside my backpack and found out that she share the next class (History in Room-46) with me.
More fun on the way.
I grabbed my backpack and went over at the back to be with my guys.
“Hey, watch it bitch!” Kendra’s voice cut through the room.
We all turned. It was Kendra shooting daggers with Nikki and somewhere in the middle, for some reason, my Mongrel was among them, standing timidly.
"I said stay out of my way, trash," Nikki snarled at Alana.
Kendra had just begun to shoot back but she stopped mid-sentence once she saw me coming to stand in front of Mongrel.
“Yeah? Anything else?” I stared straight into Nikki’s eyes.
She turned pale the instant I came into the picture. They knew better than to mess with me . . . Or anything I treasure.
“What were you trying to do? She’s new, is that why? Get over it.”
Nikki cowered for a while under my dominance but left soon after, stomping her feet (the best she could do than talk back at me. Wise, I’d say).
I looked back and smiled at Alana, “You’re welcome, Mongrel.”
Before anything, Kendra gave a low gasp and pulled her out of the classroom. By then, the noise in the room had dropped down to null and everyone there were staring at me. I knew why. Because usually, I never really care about anything else besides my business.
“Alright, show’s over, people,” I said and turned to Matt.
“You know the new girl?” Matt asked, putting his stuffs back in his backpack.
I smirked at him, “Any guess?”
He quirked at eyebrow at me and glanced out towards the door. She was with Kendra, talking.
Matt shook his head, “None.”
Sitting on his desk, I grinned at him. “Miss Alana Lancaster.”
His jaw pretty much went south after that. “You gotta be fucking kidding me.”
“Why else did you think I told off Nikki then. It’s Alana. Starburst girl is back in town, asshole. Life’s only getting better I suppose.” I chuckled.
Matt narrowed his eyes at me. “You still into her?”
"God only knows.”
“Hey! You guys coming or what?” Scott shouted from the door where he was with Hunt.
We went over to the door and stood there talking for a while.
“Put me down, Connor!”
We looked up and saw Connor hauling away Kendra on his shoulder despite her kicks and screams. I wondered what she did this time to make him do that.
“Kendra, wait!” Alana shouted at her, “Which way’s Room-46!”
“Take the hallway, turn . . . Just around . . .”
Nice try, Kendra. There is no way she’s getting you.
So I decided to be helpful.
“That way’s Room-46,” I pointed towards the wrong hallway (just being helpful), “Take the stairs, you’ll come to another hallway and then you’ll find your way.” And then I left the opposite direction for Room-46.
I like messing with her.
I’d been counting the second tick away and waiting for her to show up for class in Room-46 for fourteen minutes already. Collins had been lecturing for ten minutes and she was still lost somewhere.
Didn’t she meet anyone on the way to ask for direction? How far did she go? Has she reached Timbuktu already?
Dammit. I should go find her.
Just as I was about to stand up from my seat, my Mongrel appeared at the door, almost panting and glowering at me like a little dragon.
Oh there she is.
I couldn’t help myself. I began laughing the moment I saw her. She worked herself up and intensified her scowl.
The way she lowered her chin slightly to roll her eyes up to a deadly glare . . . only my Mongrel could look that adorable with a glare.
I winked at her. She widened her eyes incredulously.
“Ms. Lancaster?” Collins asked her.
“Yes. Sorry I’m late,” she replied.
“I’m Fred Collins. Take a seat,” Collins pointed to the chair right in front of me for her to sit.
I almost guffawed out loud.
Oh she’s so gonna like that place. Right in front of me. Arquette for President!
She didn’t look at me as she came to sit. Once she was settled, I kicked her feet under the table again. She caught her breath but didn’t turn back at me this time.
All through Collin’s lecture, I stared at her back the same way I did in English class and wondered what she was thinking . . . about me?
Still the biggest jerk, I guess.
Right after the bell rang, she looked back at me and snapped, “What the heck is wrong with you?!”
I watched her face for a moment and realizing that she still had no clue who I was, I asked her, “You don’t remember me?”
“Of course I remember. You’re the jerk I met in the graveyard yesterday.”
She stared at me. I stared back.
’C’mon, Alana. How many times do I have to kick your feet before you remember me?′ I internally groaned.
She finally asked after a minute of studying my face, “You look familiar. Who are you?”
Oh God, not again.
At some point, I was dying to tell her who I was but I wanted more for her to remember me, so I didn’t tell her this time too.