“I… I… I’m Leigh. Chandler. Leigh Chandler. I mean not that you need to know my last name, sorry I’m rambling it’s just Leigh.” Gosh, why did I always make such a fool of myself? I felt my cheeks blushing in spite of myself and tried to give him an awkward smile.
Chayse just laughed and said, “nice to meet you, Leigh Chandler.” He winked. “So what was so funny with you and your friend at lunch? I’d love to get in on the fun”.
I sighed with relief that he was (mostly) ignoring my little mishap of incompetent conversational skills. I mean, even his laugh was cute, it was that kind that is teasing but kind, where you felt included rather than ridiculed. But at the mention of my and Jada’s shenanigans at lunch, I tensed, surprised he would bring it up so quickly.
“Uhh, well we were just playing around, I mean there wasn’t any, like, particularly hilarious thing…” I replied. No way would I bring up the fact that we were literally discussing him. I mean, I’d probably just disintegrate on the spot. But… maybe I could get something out of him. “Why exactly were you staring at us, anyway?”
“I mean, what with food flying at each other, screaming and laughing, I think that would be enough to grab anyone’s attention” he shrugged. Touché. Man, he was just too cute. With blue eyes, dark curly hair, and light brown skin, combined with his personality, he was just dreamy. Before I realized I was zoning out, staring at him in the middle of the conversation, Chayse questioned, “hello? Leigh, are you okay?” I immediately snapped out of it and did my best to recover. “Uhh yeah. Sorry about that, I have a problem with zoning out. Did I miss something?” He shook his head but was still giving me a weird look. I hated myself for letting things get out of hand, he probably had caught on to my crush and wanted to push me away.
“So, do you have any siblings?” he asked. I brightened. “Yeah, actually my sister Abbie left a week ago for California. She’s starting college this year as a freshman at UCLA.” I glanced up at the front and was embarrassed to see the teacher staring at us. “Ahem. Would you two like to fill us in on the finer details of your conversation, or are you going to pay attention?” We both turned red as the class snickered. When had class started anyways? It wasn’t like we were talking about anything embarrassing, but making an example of us scared me enough to pay attention, at least for a bit. “So as I was saying, we will have weekly textbook worksheets, so I advise you to get them done on time or you could fall behind very quickly. Because I’m the best teacher, we won’t start until…” Yeah, okay, I couldn’t listen to this any longer. I glanced at Chayse and he had the same expression. We fought back laughter and revived our earlier conversation.
“UCLA, hmm. She must be really smart… and I’m willing to bet that runs in the family” he said teasingly. I loved Abbie, but she and Jada got on my nerves with how easy school came to them. Abbie was naturally smart all through high school, and earned an academic scholarship to a prestigious university with no problem, while I’ve had to work my butt off to get anywhere. “Yeah, I guess. She’s always been more of a genius” I frowned. Chayse rolled his eyes. “Yeah right, you’re probably just too humble for your own good.” And now it was my turn to roll my eyes.
We looked back at the teacher to make sure he wouldn’t pick on us again, but luckily he was still droning on about class rules and expectations for the year. I presumed that our history lectures would feel like this all year, and was suddenly very glad to have Chayse by me.
“Do you miss her? I’ve never had an older sibling, I can’t imagine what that would be like” he continued. I thought about it. “It’s only been a week so far, and honestly it just feels more surreal than anything. We’ve been together our whole lives, so I guess it just feels weird? Not that it’s a bad thing. And what’s crazy is, in just two years that’ll be me, and Mom will be left on her own. So I miss her, but I don’t. You know?” He gave me a tight smile and nodded.
“What is it?” I asked. “Oh nothing, I just don’t want to worry my younger siblings when I leave” he answered in a rush. I expected there was much more to it, but let it be. He could tell me when he was ready to, no need to push it. He seemed more anxious now, and I desperately wanted to help him feel better, but had no idea how.
Just as I was contemplating ways to cheer him up, the teacher called out groups and we were split up to play some dumb “get to know you” game with other classmates. I couldn’t stop thinking about him the rest of class, and was constantly glancing in his direction. I mean, I had liked him from a distance at lunch, but it was a million times better being close to him.
At the end of class I made up my mind to do possibly the bravest thing I have ever done in my entire life. We were walking out, and I tapped Chayse’s shoulder. “Hey, before you go, could I have your number?” He looked surprised for a second and I thought I had made a huge mistake, but then he replied “Sure!” We swapped phones and then began heading to our next class.
I was excited because it was Physics, so I would get to have my bestie with me. I spotted Jada near the door to the classroom, and headed in her direction. “Hey, do you have Physics too?” I turned to find Chayse smiling next to me, heading exactly where I was going. “Oh yeah! I didn’t realize that was where you were going” I blurted, caught unawares. “Well, we can at least walk the rest of the way together” he chuckled, and I went along nervously. As we got closer to the class, Jada spotted us and her eyes widened. I gave her a look, but she just stared more intensely.
Boy was this going to be interesting.