I’m convinced there is a special place in hell for whoever decided classes at 8am were a necessity in our society. Not to mention the professors who take pleasure with enforcing such harsh tardy rules for their classes knowing this city thrives on morning traffic.
On this particular Tuesday I was not as affronted as I might have been for being denied entry into class; I had a date. Okay so technically it was not a date in the very sense of the word but a very cute girl had invited me to join her club- sorry, organisations- weekly meeting. I mean other people were technically going to be there but that did nothing to dull my pleasure at the thought of hanging out with her.
So after graciously flipping my professor off (in secret, outside the classroom door), I put my earphones in and skipped down the hall to find a classroom to waste time in until later that afternoon.
She called me at around two. She wanted to know where I was and if I was still coming for the meeting. I fervently agreed and we arranged to link up outside the meeting room at exactly 2:30.
There was noise coming from inside the room. I didn’t understand why there was noise coming from inside the room. I thought this was gonna be like a serious meeting. I stood outside the door, obsessively checking my phone for the time.
I had just made the decision to leave when someone opened the door and invited me in.
“Hey. Please feel free to come in. The more the merrier.” I turned to see who was addressing me and was met by a stout, androgynous looking woman. She had her locs tied up into a bun and the sides cut into a soft, fade and I quickly swept my eyes over her, noting her masculine clothing. Lesbian, I assumed. Interesting. I had been under the assumption that I was being invited to something remotely religious.
“Um, I was actually looking for someone. Nita?” I said, trying not to notice the appreciative once over she was giving me. I shifted my stance so I was leaning against the wall near the door and directly in front of her.
“Oh your Anitas friend? That’s great. She just left to get some brochures. Come in though” she replied, stepping away from me to gesture inside the room. I leaned forward and poked my head through, seeing a couple faces I recognised from my classes. What was this? Some sort of Gen-Z focused cult?
“Um, I’m not sure. I’ll just wait.” I decided. She raised an eyebrow, opened her mouth but didn’t say anything. I gave her a challenging stare back and she seemed to finally give up. She smiled, re-entered the room and shut the door. I let out a breath I had not known I was holding in and pushed myself off the wall. Whoever that girl was, she was strange.
“OMG! Taya I am so sorry, I forgot I was supposed to meet you here. I went to get these.” Nita’s high pitched voice echoed in the hallway. I watched her struggle to walk, the weight of all the brochures she was carrying presumably crushing her. I waited until she got to me before offering my assistance, as a small punishment for making me endure that awkward interaction a few minutes earlier.
“It’s okay. Need some help? I haven’t been here that long.” I lied. The brochures were surprisingly dense and I suddenly understood why someone with a frame as small as hers was struggling.
“I’m so glad you’re such a sweet and understanding person. I was legit gonna cry if you were mad at me. Anyways thanks for waiting let’s go inside yeah?” She prattled, flashing her megawatt smile at me. I froze because up until then I had forgotten helping her meant I could no longer make a clean escape. I gulped and smiled back at her, signaling that we could go in. She pushed her body against the door, grunting when the heavy, blue door budged only slightly. I reached forward from behind her and tugged the heavy door open, moving slightly so she could walk in before me. Afterwards, I followed suit and let the door swing loudly shut, behind me.
I glanced around the room and found it a lot emptier than I initially thought it was. At least they had stopped playing the loud music. There were chairs arranged facing the smartboard Nita and I were currently standing in front of.
“Sorry for the interruption everyone. Rach, this is my friend Taya. This is Rach. She’s our leader.” I glanced up and looked at a tall girl with braids and a nose piercing. She had a way of looking at you that made you feel small despite being the same height as her. I smiled my hello and followed behind Nita as she placed the brochures on a desk then led us to sit behind about a dozen other people. The leader, Rach, nodded sternly and immediately launched back into a discussion regarding a bake sale.
I was sitting directly behind Nita and I stared at the back of her beautiful afro, inhaling the intoxicating scent of her cocoa butter hair products. I heard a discreet cough and looked up to meet the eyes of the girl from earlier. She was sitting right beside Nita and I had not noticed. I raised my eyebrow in what I hoped was a threatening way. She chuckled silently then looked back to the front. What the fuck was her issue? I thought, bitterly. Did she like Nita too or what?
I do not remember how long I zoned out for but I came to sometime when people had begun standing up and interacting amongst themselves. Nita turned around to face me, her face beaming. She was so pretty.
“Sooo how did you like it? Think you’ll join?” she asked excitedly. I felt like a dick. I had not listened to anything that had been said and was still not entirely sure where I was or what exactly these people did. I opened my mouth, calculating how to politely reject joining when someone spoke.
“Come on Anita! You’re scaring the poor girl away. So much pressure.” It came from the rude girl. I rolled my eyes and looked away, annoyed that she had saved me. Nita said something witty and excused herself to go talk to the leader, Rach.
“I didn’t need you to help me.” I said casually as the girl took the seat Nita had been occupying, twisting it to face me directly. She leaned back in the chair and her button up revealed a hint of cleavage. I quickly looked away trying to ignore how attractive her smug face was.
“I wasn’t saving you. Though you sure looked like you needed it” she quipped. I resisted the urge to roll my eyes again. Whoever this girl was, she sure knew how to rile me up.
“I don’t remember asking for your opinion?” I retorted. Childish? Yes. Effective? I don’t know. She simply smiled.
“How come I haven’t seen you around school?” she asked, ignoring my jab. I chewed the inside of my cheek. I could not understand why my automatic response was to be stubborn and childish everytime she talked to me but I acquiesced. We held each other’s eyes for what was probably less than ten seconds but felt like ten minutes. Finally she leaned forward, glanced at the rainbow bracelet on my arm and looked back at me.
“Hey Albert!” she yelled, her eyes trained on me. I squirmed in my seat, unsure why this entire moment was making me uncomfortable. I glanced around to see who she was calling over and saw a lanky boy with glasses stalked over to us.
“I don’t think you’ve had a chance to meet Taya? Nitas friend.″ I ignored the strange emphasis on the last word and smiled at Albert, extending my hand.
“Oh nice to meet you, Nita has been so excited for you to attend this meeting today.” He said, shaking my hand and smiling warmly. My confusion must have been written clearly on my face because he opened his mouth to speak but was beaten to it.
“Oh Albert is Nitas’ boyfriend.” I looked at the girl, she looked almost remorseful after saying it. Albert looked concerned albeit a little confused. My smile dropped. Boyfriend? I had been talking to Nita for over a month and she never once mentioned she had a boyfriend. Sure, we were not actively flirting or anything but I felt like I had been getting a vibe. Clearly, I had grossly misread our situation.
I looked up and saw the girl frowning and looking sorry. I stood up and gripped my phone, forcing a tight smile. I muttered a half-hearted goodbye to the duo and quickly passed Nita,ignoring her concerned stare and rushing out of the room.
I felt humiliated. I felt sick.
I kept my head down until I was safely inside the bathroom, then I let out a shaky breath and cried. I was not as in love with Nita as my tears would lead one to believe, but I was hurt, confused and extremely embarrassed. I also was not used to rejection, although it was not rejection exactly I was experiencing, it hurt all the same. I reduced my pathetic sobbing to sniffles when I heard the door of the bathroom opening. I wiped my nose and stared at the floor, sniffling.
“Taya come out. I want to talk to you.”