10 years ago...
“Mary Mae! Pass the ball!” Zach shouted as the red headed girl stood in the middle of the basketball court with a ball the size of her head barely held up. Her emerald eyes gazed at the basketball hoop which in reality was no larger than four feet tall, but looked a thousand miles away to Mary Mae’s eyes.
“I’m trying Zach!” She exclaimed in her high-pitch squeaky voice as she bounced the ball over to him, it was snatched up by Luka, a sly grin on his 6-year-old face as the other team now possessed the ball. Mary Mae stood helpless as Luka ran circles around her, laughing as he passed the ball to Brian.
“I’m sorry!” Mary Mae shouted to Zach, sad that she’d disappointed her best friend. She watched him run up to her and smile, his golden brown eyes shimmering in the sunlight.
“It’s okay, Mary Mae! We can get the ball back! We can win!” Zach ran beside her, howling as he charged for Luka, any attempt to win.
“Catch me if you can,” Luka laughed, the boys tackling each other for the fun of it as Brian joined in. They laughed, struggling on the ground until Zachary emerged with the ball in his hand.
He tossed it easily into the net and Mary Mae squealed with excitement.
“Didn’t I tell you I wouldn’t give up Mary Mae?” He grinned as Mary Mae ran up to hug him. Zach was kind, he had a good heart and a strong moral compass. Zach was also a champion, he was determined to succeed.
And perhaps that’s why Mary Mae liked him so much.
“Zach! You were supposed to be here ten minutes ago! We’re going to be late!” Mary Mae exclaimed as she hopped into Zach’s car. It would be the first day of their junior year of high school and she was excited. She’d get to start her second-to-last year with her best friend by her side.
Mary Mae had grown into a beautiful young woman, her dazzling green eyes and thin figure allowed her to be a heartbreaker, but her addiction to Zach’s friendship was what stopped her from breaking others hearts.
“I know, I know, sorry Mary, but look.” He said, she met his beautiful brown gaze as he held two coffees in his hand. “I got your favorite.” He smiled as she tried to stop a blush from appearing. She’d always been attracted to Zachary’s heart, he was an incredible person. The butterflies fluttered in her stomach as she struggled to contain them.
“Zach! We’re going to be late!” Mary Mae exclaimed, looking at the time on the dashboard.
“Here, Mary Mae take your coffee, I’ll get us there in time, don’t worry.” Zachary grinned, his teeth shining. Mary Mae recalled a time when his shiny white teeth were coated by the metal of braces. She smiled at the thought, he’d always been attractive, but Zach had truly grown into a stud.
“Are you excited Zach?” Mary Mae asked as he pulled out of her driveway. “I mean, we’re almost done with high school, just one more year after this one! Then we’ll be off to college and then to our jobs and whatever else life has for us.” Mary sipped her caramel macchiato as Zach glanced at her.
“Mary Mae, have you ever thought about what would happen after we graduate? I don’t like to think about it.” Zach said.
“Why? Because we won’t see each other much after?”
“That and I’ll miss your annoying face too much.” Zach smirked, turning right and driving toward the school at an illegally fast speed.
“You’re my best friend Zach, I’m sure we’ll keep in touch.” Mary Mae suggested just as flashing blue and red lights appeared behind Zach’s car. He hadn’t noticed it as he continued to talk.
“I just don’t like thinking about it Mary, it... aw damn it.” Zach complained, finally noticing the cop car behind him and pulling over. The officer took his sweet time approaching the vehicle.
“License and registration.” He said, looking through the window.
“I’m so sorry officer, we’re running late to our first day of junior year and didn’t want to make a bad impression on our teachers.” Zach said, handing over the documents that the police officer had asked for.
“Well, aren’t you two in quite the rush.” He said, “you were going 60 in a 40. I have to give you a ticket unfortunately.” He declared as another car zipped past us flying at speeds much faster than 60. It was instantaneous that Mary and Zach recognized that Luka had soared past them without so much as a warning. “Hmm, seems like everyone is in a rush today. By law, going with the speed of traffic isn’t illegal. I hope you two enjoy your first day of school.” The cop said, handing Zach his ID and car registration back and heading back to his car.
“Thank God!” Mary Mae exclaimed, releasing a breath she hadn’t realized she was holding.
“Wouldn’t you also have wanted to add another ticket to the ticket drawer?” Zach laughed, his gaze lingering on the little cabinet in front of the drivers side that everybody knew was full of parking tickets and other violations. It was as though Zach liked racking up all these driving offenses, perhaps because it allowed him to feel rebellious for once in his life.
“Zach, we have to get going.” Mary Mae exclaimed; the time read 7:56. They only had four minutes to get to school, park, and figure out where their classroom was.
It certainly wasn’t their first time at Roland High-school, it was just that different grades were placed in separate parts of the giant school.
“On it,” Zach loved watching Mary Mae stress over the littlest things. They both knew the office wouldn’t punish them for being late, especially not on the first day, but Zach also loved seeing Mary Mae happy.
“What’s your first class?”
“I have history with Mr. Stevens in room 2A194, how about you?”
“Looks like we’re in luck this year! We have the same first period!” Mary Mae’s face lit up as Zach took a peek at her expression. Her green eyes looking almost invisible as the sunlight tore through the window.
“I can’t wait for Mr. Stevens to seat us on opposite sides of the room.”
“Not if we behave, at least for the first week.” Mary Mae laughed as Zachary turned into the school. He parked with one minute to spare as they rushed into the building and up the stairs to room 2A194. History with Mr. Stevens.
“You’re late.” Mr. Stevens announced. He was halfway through calling roll when Mary Mae and Zachary strolled into the classroom.
“Sorry Mr. S, if you knew how Mary gets when she doesn’t have her morning coffee, you’d have come late too.” Zach said, his face hard as he remained expressionless. Mary raised her eyebrow as Zach looked at her with a mischievous twinkle in his eye.
“Find your seats. Since it’s the first day, I’ll excuse it, but if this becomes a recurring occasion, then detention will have two seats awaiting the both of you.” Mr. Stevens chuckled to himself.
Zachary walked to the only available seat in the back. He sat and watched as Mary sat in the only seat left. Front and center. He held back a laugh as she glanced at him and rolled her eyes.
“As I was saying, Welcome to Honors History, I’m Mr. Stevens for those of you that don’t know me. I’ll be taking roll at the start of every class. This school year is not only about learning the rich history of our country, but also acknowledging things about ourselves. We are here to learn history, but ultimately, we’re here to learn about ourselves so we don’t repeat the problems of those in the past.” Mr. Stevens said. He was proud that he had been able to remember his mini-speech. He had practiced for hours in front of his mirror last night and was excited to finally share the clever message to his students.
Mary Mae glanced at Zach again who was looking through his hair. He seemed really invested in the bangs on his head. He had had a fade when summer started, but let it grow out to look like Justin-Bieber 2012 hair. It suited him. Any hairstyle could suit him.
Class ended as quickly as it had began. Zach was the first to leave while Mary Mae took her sweet time packing her pencils and notebook back into her bag. She loved the feeling of putting her brand new school supplies away. Zach waited outside the classroom, his back resting on the lockers.
“Hi.” A voice said from behind her. Mary Mae turned to look at the voice, her long red hair almost slapping the boy in the face.
“Hello.” She said, confused at the new conversation with someone she had never met before. He must have been new, because if it’s one thing Mary Mae knew, it was every person who attended her school since first grade.
“I’m Gilbert, I’m new here. I was wondering if you would be able to show me around the school?” He asked, his sparkling blue gaze stared at her as she looked up to meet them.
“Uh...” she began. He shined her his mega-watt smile before continuing.
“And I know we just met, but I think you’re the most beautiful woman I’ve laid eyes on and I’d like to get to know you better.” Gilbert said as Mary Mae’s mouth hung open in surprise. She’d never met a man so straightforward, it was mature, attractive really.
“Uh...” she was at a loss for words. Outside, Zach had grown impatient. Mary Mae has never taken that long to be out of the classroom. The next bell was about to ring soon.
“It’s okay, you can take your time. In the meantime, can I walk you to your next class?” Gilbert asked. Mary Mae was frozen in time, wondering if she was dreaming. Gilbert wasn’t a conventional beauty, he looked more like a model.
“Are you asking me on a date?” Mary Mae asked, her voice small as she stared into the enticing blue eyes of Gilbert Van Louise.
“Yes, I am. Your name is Mary right?” He continued as she placed the last pen in her bag. He watched her carefully as she nodded.
“Yes, to the date.” She finally said as the bell rang. They turned toward the door where Zach still stood, frozen in his spot as he watched them. Gilbert grinned as they walked past Zachary and parted ways with Mary Mae.
“Zach what’s your next class?” Mary Mae asked as they stood in the hallway alone.
“Anatomy.” Zach said, not meeting her eyes.
“I have calculus.” Mary Mae said. “I’ll see you at lunch Zach!” She rushed off to her next class as Zach still remained in his spot. It was as though someone glued his feet to the floor.
“See you.” He muttered, almost to himself. Although, Mary Mae was out of earshot by the time he’d said it.