It was the first day of school and the butterflies in my stomach had risen to my throat. I wanted to check the bulletin board but the wall of students was impenetrable. I didn't want to deal with all those people so I wandered around the hallways. I came across an empty one surprisingly, even though class would start soon.
The papers on the floor were the only things that kept me company. For a bit.
"Just pick a paper and grab a seat."
I quickly spun around and stared at the teacher. He leaned on the wall next to the door with his hands in his pockets. He continued with my stare until he slightly tilted his head towards the papers.
"How do you know I'm in your class?" I asked nervously.
"Pretty sure your name came up in my list of students this year," he replied, looking meaningfully at my chest. I would have been disgusted if I didn't have a "Hello, my name is Mackenna O'Hara" tag stuck to me.
"Sorry," I mumbled lightly, grabbing the blank card.
"It's ok. First day jitters, I get it," he said understandingly. I sent him a small grin and stepped into the classroom.
I sat in the back and waited for class to begin. I could hear from inside that the teacher was relaying the same message he told me. I fiddled with my thumbs as students crashed through, wondering who would be brave enough to sit next to me.
It's not like I had a bad reputation or something. I just think that people need a small seed of courage to be able to sit next to a total stranger. A seed that I don't seem to have.
My thoughts were interrupted when I heard the chair next to me scrape the floor and looked up. A boy with dark eyes and dark hair sat down. I flitted my eyes toward his name tag. Luca V. Conti.
When I looked up again, he was staring at me. His serious gaze kept my mouth shut and I couldn't tell whether I should be thankful for the silence or be crept out. Even with dark eyes, he kept me calm enough to stop playing with my hands. When I realized that I should introduce myself, I heard the teacher clap his hands.
"Welcome to the 6th grade! Don't get too comfortable in your seats, I have places for all of you," he said with a playful smirk on his face.
I heard the groans of all the students and I almost participated; I didn't quite want to separate myself from the boy next to me just yet. We returned our eyes on each other once again and was comforted by his smile.
He lifted his hand. "Luca. Nice to meet you for a few minutes."
I eyed it curiously for a quick second before beaming a smile at him. "Mackenna," I said, shaking his hand happily.
Maybe this year wouldn't be so bad.
It wasn't a bad year but I never got to know Luca. We were too painfully shy and sat at opposite ends of the room.
At the beginning of 7th grade, I was told that he moved.
I will admit that the news made me sad.
But I barely knew the kid so I got over it quickly.
Then high school began.
It was the first day of school and my group of friends had decided to meet at the freshman locker commons on the second floor.
I was fiddling with my hair tie as I plopped down on the floor next to a friend. The area had no benches or any formal seating area, so the floor was our only option.
My sudden presence didn't interrupt her conversation with another girl next to her. I just smiled at her and she continued like nothing happened. I organized my bookbag in the mean time.
I popped my head up and waved to the girl who called me. "Hi, Helen!"
I had known Helen since 6th grade. We were assigned next to each other and we'd been friends ever since. We always managed to stay in touch because she lived so close and took the same bus.
"Get up! I want you to meet someone."
I raised an eyebrow and she just gestured for me to hurry up. I told the girl next to me to watch over my stuff and she just nodded distractedly.
I left and walked over to Helen. She was speaking to a boy. He had longish dark brown hair and was tall for boy in our grade. When she noticed I was there, she introduced us. He turned around slightly and I was surprised to see the same dark brown eyes that I still remembered.
"Kenna, I want you to meet—"
"Luca!" I exclaimed.
I didn't really know what had overcome me but I hugged him.
No, it wasn't that awkward one arm hugs or a slap on the back. It was the kind of hug you would give to an old friend, or possibly a deeply loved one. And even though it should have felt awkward, it was the most natural thing in the world.
And I could tell I wasn't the only one who felt that way.
He laughed good-naturedly. "Nice to see you again, Mackenna."
I shook my head. "No, no, no. Call me Kenna."
Helen observed us with great interest. "Do you guys know each other?"
I eyed Luca and we both cracked a smile. "Not really," he answered.
She creased her forehead cutely. "You guys are weird."
I laughed. "I thought you moved."
He nodded. "We did. Now we're back."
"Well, it looks like we have more than a few minutes this time around."
By the look on his face, I knew he understood exactly what I was talking about. "You're not as shy like before."
I rolled my eyes. "I could say the same for you."
"What was wrong with us?"
"A lot of things, I think."
"Ok, this is so weird. How did you guys get like this?" Helen inquired with a confused expression on her face.
"I think we were meant to meet again," Luca suggested.
I nodded in agreement. "Second chances. I like that. Luca." He looked at me expectantly. "I think this will be the start of a beautiful friendship."
He smirked, which in all honesty surprised me. "I already knew it would be way back then."
I shot him an annoyed look. "Then it's all your fault it took so long." He just ruffled my hair. "Hey, I just tied my hair up!"
He smiled at me again and reached his hand over my head one more time.
In retrospect, looking back in that moment, I think we both knew how much we meant to each other.
In that moment, we should've seen it coming.