I know I just uploaded a new part yesterday, but I’ve been having withdrawals because of finals last week.
Expect a lot the next few weeks!
Need to still get caught up?
Professor Wilkins passed out a pop quiz at the end of class.
Nicky walked in with a half an hour left to the period, and sat in the back. She didn’t bring her books or backpack, just a red pen that she rubbed between her thumb and pointer like a violin bow.
Wilkins did not comment on her tardiness and continued to pass out the quizzes.
Once he had passed my desk, I opened my legs, revealing my cellphone, which I had hid between my thighs. My screen lit up – new message from Jacqueline: “I’m outside your class.”
I found Jacqueline’s shoulder and face boxed in the classroom door’s window. She was wearing ear buds, leashed by pink wires that settled along her collarbone. I wondered if the wire went under her shirt. With my right hand, I typed out a message and then closed my legs. Pushing one end of my pen in a circular motion, like winding a busted clock tail, I watched Jacqueline bring her cellphone up to her face. She made a small smile: drew back her upper lip and bit down on her lower. Her eyes shifted up over her cellphone and looked at me. I smiled and winked at her. Something warm built up in my stomach and elevated to my chest. Jacqueline brought her hand up to her mouth as if to hold back a giggle and looked down. I knew she felt something similar.
“Smarty pants,” Jacqueline whispered when I left the classroom five minutes later.
I pulled at the pink wire beneath her chin. The ear buds fell out and rested on the rim of her tank top. “It was five questions.”
Jacqueline pulled at the rim of her tank; the ear buds fell into her cleavage. She pulled the pink wire through her shirt and wrapped it around her iPod like a scarf. “You were the first one done.” She put her iPod in one of her back pockets. “It’s impressive.”
“Your hair looks nice.” I stuffed my hands into my front pockets and lifted my chin.
Jacqueline shuffled towards me and put her ear to my chest. A strong cinnamon scent – almost like a taste that’d crunch in my mouth like sugar – encompassed us. “Let’s go get some lunch.”
* * * * *
I sat on a couch outside of Jacqueline’s classroom with her backpack: black shoulder bag with a green gun symbol above the zipper. She was taking a test.
I sat in the center of the couch – taking up both leather cushions – and leaned forward with elbows on knees; hands clasped; heels up; feet parted. Students walked by with books under arms and cellphones nestled in palms. I sat back and bobbed my left knee. Picking up Jacqueline’s bag, I placed it next to me. I wrapped my right arm around the bulky body.
Suddenly I heard a loud hum accompanied with running water. Someone, wearing a red hoodie and a pair of jeans with rips across the knees, hovered over the water fountain down the hall. They lifted their left leg – heel to butt – as they delved deeper into the fountain. Coming up for air, they brought their foot down and turned towards my end of the hall. Peeking past the rim of their hood was a lip ring. As they walked by, they bit down over the ring and a string of saliva stretched between their upper and bottom lip. My heart sank.
Jacqueline left her classroom as Nicky walked by: just a yard away from me, just merely inches from Jacqueline.
Jacqueline reached out her hand. “Bag please?”
I was so tempted to grab her by the wrist and pull her in – similar to how she hooked me in for a hug the day before. I wasn’t fishing for a hug though; I wanted to gauge how much crunch that cinnamon had. “Of course.” Standing up, I handed her the bag. “Thank God I kept my eye on it. It almost ran off a few times.”
She swung the bag over her shoulder and laughed. “What would I do without you?”
I stepped behind her and wrapped my arms around her waist. Crossed at the wrists, my hands laid limp over her belt buckle. Cheek on her shoulder, I rocked side-to-side, distributing weight to each foot. She swayed with me. “You wanna dance?” I grabbed her hand to twirl her around until she faced me.
“Here?” Her head lowered as groups of students left their classes: some walking in packs, some loitering the hallway.
“They aren’t watching.” I took her other hand. “It wouldn’t be any different anywhere else.” Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the back of Nicky’s head: her neck equipped with an unhinged hoodie; her hair pulled into a messy bun. I looked down at her back pocket, where her cellphone tilted left to right like a metronome with each step. Her hand reached down and retrieved it. She thumb wrestled with the keyboard, excavating for conversations I hoped we shared, before slipping it back into her pocket.
Jacqueline pulled me in for a hug.
Over her shoulder, I watched Nicky continue down the hall. One of her pant legs was folded; the other was tucked behind her sneaker’s tongue. I couldn’t help but to find it adorable.
Smiling without showing teeth, I inhaled and smelled cinnamon.