In the Wake of Night

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Chapter 4

Luckily for me, I am years ahead of the curriculum and already know all I need to know on the subject of Stoichiometry. This allows me to daydream during class. You don’t need to be Albert Einstein to know the focus of my attention. Sophia fascinates me. I replay the events that had just unfolded and worry about how I may have come across. I’ve never really interacted with anyone, let alone a girl. Sophia is different though. She is a little strange like me - uncharacteristically lowkey and timid. I just hope that she doesn’t get caught up in one of Sacramento’s social cliques.

When Chemistry finally ends, I shuffle alongside the outpouring of pupils. The feeling radiating through my veins is familiar, excitement embroiled with nerves. I head straight to Sophia’s Math class, mentally preparing myself for the social pressures that await. Through the sea of floating heads, I spot her. Leaning against the magnolia wall, nibbling at her cuticles, waiting for me.

“Good lesson?” I enquire.

“So, so. Math really isn’t my strong suit.”

“Where next?”

“Art, something I actually like.”

So she’s the creative type. The yin to my yang.

“That’s cool. I like art, I’m just no good at it myself.”

We set off, strolling side-by-side. Her fine hair swishes behind her. My nostrils fill once again with her sweet, delectable scent.

“What are you good at?” she asks.

Do I respond honestly and risk coming off as arrogant? The truth is I’m good at most things academic. The truth is I’m good at spying on people.

“I like writing best. It is just a shame the types of books we cover are tripe.”

“I wish I could write. I think I have dyslexia or something. None of it comes naturally to me. With Art, I don’t need to think. It is just effortless. That’s why I love it.”She grins as she talks and her nose wrinkles when she gets passionate - it’s adorable.

I’d give anything to see her artwork. We halt outside of the studio and I stall, not wanting to leave her just yet. “Maybe you can show me your work some time, if you want?”

“I didn’t say I was any good. I just enjoy it.” Sophia halts outside a classroom and points at the door.Is this my stop?”

“Yes, I’ll meet you next for lunch. I’ll take you to the cafeteria.”

Her hand rests against the door’s pane of glass; her face creases with concern. “Will you sit with me? I’d hate to be alone on my first day.”

Would she want to eat with me if she knew how I dine solo, day after day?

“Of course.”

When we do unite for lunch, I learn Sophia is quite a private person. I ask her about life back in Richmond, but she seems reluctant to expand. This only peaks my interest even more. The bombshell I do learn is that she has in fact moved into the house across from me in Roseville. The idea comes to me instantaneously when the opportunity arises.

“Shoot, I forgot my water. I’ll just be a sec,” she says in the middle of lunch.

“No problem, I’ll keep your seat.”

As she runs over to the counter, I see she’s left her bag behind. The temptation is too strong to ignore. I reach over and rummage around, feeling for the hard metal. Sensing the rough edges of her keys, I take them in one swoop and pocket them in my jeans. Sophia jogs back to our table, water in hand.

“So, you were telling me about Roseville. What’s there to do for fun?”

Unbeknownst to her, the type of fun I like is illicit. We continue like this sharing small talk and I feel that I’ve made a friend. My first and only friend. Even though she sits living and breathing in front of me now, I can’t help but visualise her lying in bed. Asleep.

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