Chapter 10: Serious Business
“You are to sit in silence,” Mr. Thompson proclaimed, pacing the front of the room. He held a yardstick in one hand and was slapping it onto his open palm with an inflated air of importance. “Not a word, do you understand? And you had best be busy the entire time. No fooling around.” He glared around the room, his thin face scrunched up into a stern, focused mask. “Get to work.”
Cyrus opened up his textbook to a random page and stared at it for a minute, not really reading anything. He didn’t have any homework that weekend since the teachers were taking it easy in consideration for the SATs. There were only two other people in the room besides himself and Hayden, and they were both mischievous looking freshmen. Cyrus gave a silent sigh and tried to focus on his book.
At a tap on his shoulder, Cyrus twisted in his seat to look back at Hayden. He grinned and held out a folded piece of paper. Passing notes, are we? Cyrus thought wryly. What are we, teenage girls? He took it nonetheless and opened it as quietly as he could.
You’re probably going to make fun of me for passing notes like an eighth grade girl, but I’m willing to bet that you’re bored enough that you’ll respond anyway. Am I right? I could be wrong, my brain is pretty dead from that freaking five hour test you just made me take. -Hayden
Cyrus read it twice. He wanted so badly to not respond just to prove Hayden wrong, but… he was really bored. Digging out a pencil from his messenger bag, Cyrus scribbled back:
I’m writing back for the sole purpose of defending the importance of the “freaking five hour test” I just made you take. You’ll thank me later.
P.S. Did you really need to sign your name? As if I didn’t know who this was from…
Cyrus folded the paper back up in silence, and glanced up at Mr. Thomson. His head was bent down so that all Cyrus could see was the top of his dark hair. He seemed to be grading tests or something; it didn’t especially matter as long as he stayed occupied. Cyrus reached a hand over his shoulder, offering the paper to Hayden without turning. When he felt Hayden take it, he dropped his hand.
It was a few minutes before Cyrus received another tap, but he could hear the quick scratching of the pencil against paper all the while. Cyrus wondered what he was writing.
I’ll thank you when I get back to being able to do more math than 2+2. Seriously, is it possible to get a brainache? ’Cause I think I have one. And that’s all on you, dude.
“P.S.”? Really? And you deny being an eighth grade girl. As for the signature, maybe I’m just practicing my autograph for that day when I become a famous rockstar.
Cyrus stifled a smile as he bent his head down and read the note. Flipping over the paper, he wrote out a reply and sent it back to Hayden.
Maybe if you exercised your brain cells more often, you wouldn’t be having this problem. Guess you’re just out of practice with this whole “thinking” thing. And obviously I deny being an eighth grade girl. It’s pretty clear that I’m seventeen and a male. As for acting like one, I chose to ignore that comparison. P.S. dates all the way back to latin’s postscriptum meaning “written after.” It’s not exclusive to teenage females. So, yeah, I’m definitely an eighth grade girl.
The response took only seconds to come from Hayden. Cyrus took it, unfolding it with more eagerness than was deserved. Maybe there was something to be said about surreptitiously passing notes.
Ok, fine, but you ARE a walking dictionary. Next time I write a paper, I’m just citing you as a source.
Cyrus had to force down a laugh. He wanted to turn around to see Hayden’s expression at the moment, but restrained himself. It was easy enough to imagine.
It’s sloppy research like that which gets you bad grades on papers, you know.
Passing the paper back over his shoulder, Cyrus waited for the tap again. He was, oddly enough, almost having fun. In detention. The world was just full of surprises.
I think you just insulted yourself.
Cyrus frowned. He considered several possible responses, then wrote back:
He tried to think of something else to add to that, but came up with nothing. Sneaking a glance at the teacher, Cyrus passed the note back. Even though their rebellion was mild compared to something like nicking the assistant principal’s flask, Cyrus still felt a rush of exhilaration. Long ago, he had fallen into the rhythm of simply obeying the rules, for not acting out meant he could fly under the radar. That had always seemed the better way to go. Until now, perhaps.
Cyrus looked down at the note that Hayden had sent back.
You shut up. You’re the reason we’re in here, you know that? If it weren’t for you wearing yourself out to the point of unconsciousness, we could be out enjoying this Saturday.
It was true. But, like he just realized, Cyrus oddly didn’t mind so much that they were in detention.
You’re the one who keeps saying there’s nothing fun to do on campus.
The response was quick and concise.
On campus, no.
Cyrus scowled at the paper, his dark brows drawing together in a line. What was that supposed to mean? The way he understood it, they were confined to the campus unless picked up by a parent, or taken on a field trip. Though, knowing Hayden, if there was some way to bend the rules, he would find it.
What do you mean? You sneak off campus? How?
This time, when Cyrus passed the note back, he risked turning around to raise his brow at Hayden, who was grinning cheerfully, his brown eyes seeming to glow with playfulness. The bright afternoon sun streamed in from the window, highlighting the golden streaks in his dirty blonde hair. Cyrus realized he was staring and whipped back around. His heart was pounding when he felt the tap this time.
Of course I do. Where do you think I got that record? And as for how… Well, like I’ve said a million times, it pays to be friendly.
Cyrus shook his head in disbelief.
The staff again? Is there anything they won’t do for you?
This reply took a little longer, so Cyrus knew Hayden was writing a decent amount.
They just like me, that’s all. Most of the people here are too snobbish to care about them, or even notice they’re there. So yeah, they don’t mind doing me a few favors here and there. Like taking me on their supply runs sometimes. Wanna come?
Cyrus read it over twice. He bit his lip before writing out the reply.
Hayden, if you get caught, you could be expelled.
He wasn’t sure yet if he wanted to go, so Cyrus thought he would delay answering the question. While this relatively tame rebellion was fun, risking expulsion was a different matter entirely. There was much more to think about than an adrenaline rush. What would his mother say if she got a call that Cyrus had been expelled just for a quick ride into town and back? How would that look on his permanent record when applying to Princeton? It didn’t seem worth it.
That was all the reply Cyrus got. He thought for a minute.
And that’s kind of reckless, don’t you think? I mean, is it really worth it for a couple of records?
Cyrus thought it was reckless. But then again, Cyrus had known since day one that he and Hayden had very different views on the concept of rules.
Hell yeah! Do you know how long I’ve wanted to hear Bad Company on vinyl? I’m not going to blow this chance and suddenly become upright. It’s senior year, live a little.
Cyrus replied simply:
I’m living quite enough, thanks.
Before Hayden could pass back a note, the clock ticked over to two o’clock, an hour after they had come in. Mr. Thompson must have been watching the time, for he spoke up, saying, “Okay, detention’s over. Shape up, or you’ll be in here again.” He glared at everyone as they filed past his desk to leave.
“Who’s he think he is, Machiavelli?” Hayden grumbled on the way out. Cyrus spared him a surprised glance, and he shrugged. “What? I pay attention.” The look became more skeptical. “On occasion,” Hayden added begrudgingly.
“That’s more like it,” Cyrus said. “But really, aren’t you worried you’re going to get caught sneaking out like that?”
“Nah,” Hayden said easily. “A few minutes there, a few minutes back… I’m never gone for more than an hour or two. I know I’m the life of the place, but no one misses me that quickly.” He shot Cyrus a cocky grin. “Sure you don’t want to come? I doubt anyone would mind.”
“Not this time,” Cyrus said. “Or probably ever.”
“Well, suit yourself.”
The day was bright and beautiful, but not too hot that it wasn’t enjoyable. Soon, summer would be fading into fall, and the leaves would start falling. Cyrus couldn’t wait until fall. It was his favorite time of the year; the colors were so gorgeous, and perfect for drawing. As he glanced around at the campus, Cyrus already began to decide which trees would make the best subjects for his renderings.
They walked in silence for a few minutes, just enjoying the day, until Hayden said, “Hey, I’m going to drop by the music room for a bit. Got a new song I’m working on. Catch you later?”
“Sure,” Cyrus replied.
Hayden punched him on the arm. “No more studying today, got that? You’re forbidden for the rest of the weekend.”
Rolling his eyes, Cyrus responded, “Yeah, yeah, whatever you say.”
Hayden smiled at him. “See you later.”
Cyrus headed off back to the dorms, unreasonably tired for it being early afternoon. He dropped his messenger bag on the couch, then headed for the bedroom, shedding his stifling clothes and settling into something more comfortable. Figuring he had earned a bit of drawing time, Cyrus pulled out his sketchbook and a drawing pencil and lounged against the headboard of his bed. He began the familiar strokes of an eye, then another, losing himself in the artistry of it all. After a few minutes, however, he stopped. Something was missing.
Sitting up, Cyrus moved to his dresser, picking up his record player and sliding in the single that Hayden had given him - this time with the B side facing up. He gently set the needle in one of the grooves, then moved back towards bed as the music began to play.
Hello, love, nice to see you again,
I hope someday we can still be friends.
Cyrus stood next to his bed, looking down at his sketchbook objectively for the first time since he had started his sketch. He tended to start with eyes when drawing a person, but when he looked down at these, it wasn’t Marissa’s familiar gaze that was staring back at him.
It was Hayden’s.