“There’s something about her man, I don’t know. I can’t get her out of my head.”
Looking out the window, Spring was in full swing. Flowers were blooming along the café sidewalk, the trees lining the street were full and green. Sunlight warmed the wooden tables and chairs, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. However, Zeke’s favourite part of this main street close to his home was the cherry blossom tree sitting in the nearby park. Originally, he had heard that the council had planted several saplings along the park edge, but its finicky nature refused their growth – all except for the one. Now, it stood covered in that light pink, cherry blossoms littered the ground around it, and in fact, some were slowly falling to the ground as he watched. Slowly, flittering in the wind. Whilst having a park lined with cherry blossoms would have been beautiful, he was simply grateful that there was at least one that could be enjoyed.
“Come on Zeke, does she even know you exist? Do you even know this new girl’s name? I’ve never seen you like this, man.”
“I know, Jet. Believe me, I don’t get it either. But she – dude. It feels like I have to talk to her.”
Jet looked at Zeke square in the eyes. He didn’t know what he was trying to find. Something to validate what Zeke was feeling. To try and understand this seemingly sudden change in personality within him. While he was not outstandingly popular with girls, Zeke has had girls crushing on him, but he had never reciprocated before. As they sat at the café, pop music filled the silence between them – not that either of them were paying attention. Zeke was leaning forward, his coffee to the side, forearms on the table. Jet sat back in his chair, brought his right foot up to rest on his left thigh, just above his knee, and brought his coffee up to his mouth. Without taking a sip, he breathed in, deep, and let out a long sigh before putting down his cup and running his fingers through his black hair. Jet had seen determination in Zeke’s eyes before. For poetry, sports, games. But never girls.
Jet finally spoke up, “Well, I guess love at first sight does exist then.”
“Come on, man. You know it’s not like that. I can’t explain it. I just have this urge to talk to her.”
“I don’t know how you can get so psyched about this new girl, just because you guys looked at each other in the corridor. Have you thought about all the other guys who made eye contact with her yesterday? And who starts school the last day of class before Spring Break? Honestly, she should’ve just skipped.” Jet brought his cup to his mouth, but after taking a sip and realising its lukewarm nature, he quickly put it back down.
“Oh yeah, that means the party’s tonight, right? You think I’ll be able to see her?”
At this, Jet rose from his feet, rolling his eyes.
“Look at you, finally in love.”
“Shut up, man.”
“Let’s go pay dude, we have to get ready.”
“Get ready? Get ready for what?”
“A party! There’s a party tonight! It’ll be a perfect opportunity to make your official high school debut.”
Elizabeth laid her head against a pillow which was up against the headboard of her bed, her phone pressed to her ear. Up against the back wall, there were still a few boxes she had yet to unpack. Other than that, her soft peach painted walls were still bare of any of her gaming posters that she usually had up, the only thing beside her bookstand being the table, upon which she had her laptop opened. Sunlight hugged the table, as it faced the window. Elizabeth looked out down the road to see the main street. Her eyes rested fell on a lone cherry blossom tree, nestled along the edge of a park still unfamiliar to her.
“What, my third day here and I’m already getting invited to a party? Pretty lucky for a new girl.”
“Yaaaassss! I’m going to show you off to everyone! You’re single, right?”
“I think I’ll stick with getting to know everyone first… Bethany?”
“Yeah. The girl who sits next to you, remember?”
“Yeah, don’t worry. My memory’s not that bad.”
A small, warm laugh on the other side. High pitched and squeaky, but still warm.
“Don’t worry, you’ll have fun tonight. Meet some more people who come to our school. Wear something nice!”
“Wait, Bethany, before you go. There was a guy I saw in the corridor.”
“Whoa, wait, what? What’d he look like?” Elizabeth could pretty much hear Bethany straighten up, her ears pricked to attention.
“Uuhhh… black hair, pale… skin…? I dunno where I was going with this.”
“Aaawww, do you have a crush already!?” Impossibly, her voice became even higher in pitch.
“No, it’s not like that… I don’t know how to explain it, I just feel like I have to talk to him.”
“Don’t worry, Elizabeth, you might meet mystery boy tonight. I have to go get ready! I better see you there tonight!”
Putting the phone to the side of her bed, she laid back. For having started unpacking her things and getting her room mostly clean, Netflix was open on her laptop – a welcoming reprieve from her work; a reprieve that she expected to last well into the night and perhaps even into the morning. But it seems being seated next to Bethany had dashed any hopes of a quiet Spring break, filled with books, tv shows, video games and roaming around the town with a sketch pad in her bag. Or at least, that was the exaggeration Elizabeth was telling herself right now. She began mentally preparing for a speedy meet-and-greet with a whole new lot of people, and planned to dash out before everyone got too drunk and rowdy. Thinking about it, why was she even going if no one was going to remember she went? Nevertheless, she turned her head, glanced over her laptop and then at her wardrobe, which was still mostly bare, with the majority of her clothes in boxes. Breathe in, breathe out. Her heart sank a little upon looking again at the content of her wardrobe, and back to the boxes containing the rest of her clothes. Or at least, she hoped that was the box containing her clothes.
As he was parking, upbeat music blared from down the road. A combination of an unrecognisable stream of words sung by deep male and aspirate female vocals filled the atmosphere. A small sense of excitement went through him, an emotion that could only truly be felt as one began to realise that the holidays had begun. Before stepping out of the car, Zeke stopped to check his hair for the last time, admired his Timberlands and stepped out.
He would scarce realise he was beginning to walk according to the beat. Small bobs of the head, the clear Spring night air filling his lungs. As the music got louder and louder, he saw other teenagers sitting around on the front porch, red plastic cups in their hands, laughter filling the air.
Walking through the swath of people, to the back, undoubtedly where the drinks were, Zeke kept on the lookout for Jet. Ten texts already sent with no reply, the three calls no answer. Grabbing a can, he made his way to a circle of people that he knew, sitting next down to Bethany on a three-seater couch.
“Zeke! Oh my God, you’re finally here!”
A tight hug, and as she let go, Zeke swore there was an imprint of her face on his shoulder, left by her make up. But he shook his head and blinked to see it disappear in front of his eyes.
“Have you met Elizabeth? You remember her? She’s a new girl who came on the last day.”
Motioning to the girl next to her, Zeke quickly realised it was her. When he thought of the name Elizabeth, he thought of light blonde hair, plastic appearance and a shallow, fake personality. But her hair was auburn, she had a slim face, high cheekbones and deep dimples.
“Oh, look who it is!” A deeper voice, for a girl. But something he was undeniably attracted to. Or was that just her?
All it took was her smile and a few words, and it seemed like the small amount that Zeke had drunk had already gone to his head. He couldn’t help but smile back, and just… her brown eyes. Realising what he was doing, he shook his head little, smiled and looked back at her.
“Yeah, I think I remember. I saw you in the corridor.”
“Oh, you sure it was me?” Elizabeth didn’t know what was going on with her. This was completely new to her. Smiling without paying attention. Wanting to linger on a boy’s eyes. What was it?
“Yeah, I’m pretty sure.”
Before they could continue, a slap on his back. Undeniably, Jet.
“Dude! Where’ve you been? I’ve been looking for you for ages.”
“Just went on a pee break. Come on, man. We’re about to start spin the bottle.” A small smile on them both.
“I have to go pee as well. Just get started without me.” With that, Zeke went off through the mass of youth to find the toilet.
When Zeke returned, he sat next to Bethany, once again. She leaned her head against his shoulder, a sad smile on her face.
“She found mystery boy.”
“What? Who did, Beth?”
“Elizabeth. She found Jet.”