Brendon warns Taylor; Taylor finds a quickly forming crush directed towards Brendon.
Though I knew it was rude I still found myself staring. He was a sight to see and outside of the girls’ bathroom he was a lot more attractive. Brown strands of hair kept falling in front of his greyed out eyes, and his smile just continued to grow.
“No, not really. My balance is less than desirable.” I responded, self-consciously glancing towards the ground though I knew he couldn’t see the blush growing on my cheeks. Why was I even embarrassed, or telling him this? He didn’t know. He couldn’t see me stumble in to things. He could still hear though- and I wasn’t a liar, or I didn’t want to be one.
“I haven’t heard the telltale clatter just yet.” Brendon teased.
I chuckled uneasily, finding my eyes drawn to all those around us- and they were all staring quite openly. It was unnerving. “What about you?” I finally asked, shaking off the rude stares.
“I used to be.” Brendon answered, “I still love to swim but I don’t compete- and baseball has always been something I liked. It was always easier to get to all of the bases in that game… than in any other game.” I could hear the tease in the end of his sentence, the playful meaning behind it.
“I like to swim recreationally.” I spoke softly, surprised that my words weren’t drowned by the crowd. “I like the feeling of the water against my body when I dive in. It’s something special to feel.”
Brendon nodded, weighing his words before speaking. “You’re right. It is something special.” The words sounded pained- and I wasn’t really sure what to make of it. I’d never really had a conversation filled with double meaning but now I was, and I was only grasping on to what fell in to my outstretched hands.
Brendon cleared his throat and his cheer quickly returned leaving me baffled towards his previous short lived mood. “You hear the whistles?”
I was caught off guard by the question and I had to actually listen for a second to hear the whistling and as I looked through the crowd I saw a group of boys were the cause, “Yeah.”
“That would be Jake Torrese, London Smith, and Adam Gurt.” Brendon said each name calmly, giving away no emotion. I couldn’t tell how he felt about the boys- usually people were a lot easier to read. Their tones were generally less guarded, but Brendon’s guards were up and acting efficiently. “They stand there before class every single day and whistle at girls, and then they do the same thing during breaks.”
I just nodded, not knowing what to say. It took me a second to realize that Brendon couldn’t see me nodding but he beat my spoken nod because as I parted my lips to speak he spoke up, “Are you nodding Taylor?”
“Yeah.” I admitted, embarrassed.
“Shame on you.” Brendon said with his tone dead serious.
I was completely caught off guard and felt like a total jerk, “I’m s-“
Brendon just laughed, “I’m only teasing.”
His playful grin returned and my gaze followed the whistling boys. Why had Brendon pointed them out? Then he explained himself, “Watch out for those guys.” His tone was still calm, giving nothing away. “They are notorious for sleeping with girls and not calling.”
I was surprised at his words, “Oh?” Was all I could manage.
“I don’t know you well enough to know who you are yet Taylor.” Brendon muttered, “But I know you aren’t looking for that.”
And he was right.
“Thank you.” My gratitude sounded weak as it tumbled from my lips but that was mainly because I was still surprised. Brendon seemed genuinely concerned and his gaze landed on me, making me jump. His murky grey eyes looked but did not see.
My first class of the day seemed to drag on- and I didn’t know anyone. Brendon directed me and then left, heading to Physical Education, while I was stuck in History.
I was thinking about Brendon’s eyes. They seemed alive, but also so dead. He couldn’t see with them but they sparkled with life every single time he smiled. It was difficult to look directly at him without feeling pity but I didn’t want him to know that. It could never come out right because it wasn’t right. I shouldn’t look at him with pity but I couldn’t help it.
I couldn’t imagine being unable to see- being unable to drive, or to walk down a hallway without bumping in to multiple people. I found myself scribbling down things I was thankful for. The teacher droned on, and I gazed down at the list.
It was a wake- up call.
“Hey-“ I jumped as someone’s hand fell on to my shoulder. “You’re Taylor, right?”
I glanced behind me, surprised to see one of the guys Brendon had pointed out. I hadn’t noticed because he was sitting behind me. “Yeah, why?”
“You’re a little defensive, aren’t you?” He chuckled, “I just wanted to know your name.”
I stared in to his eyes, unsure of what to say back.
I shrugged just to show that I was listening.
“Tough audience.” London joked, “I usually at least earn a greeting by now.”
“Hi.” I choked out, struggling with the simple word.
London laughed, “Hi Taylor.”
I was about to face the front again but then he spoke, “Do you like coffee?”
I just stared, before realizing I should probably reply. And so reply I did, “Coffee is okay.”
“Well, would it be okay if I bought you a coffee on break?” Whoa, what?
“It wouldn’t be illegal or anything.” I responded, uncertainty lacing the words.
I’d just been warned about the guy but I never really saw him as a danger. I wasn’t often hit on.
“I’ll take that as a yes.” He chuckled, “You’ll have to catch me up on your preferences after class.” Then he gestured to the front and as I turned I realized the teacher was watching us.
The bell didn’t ring fast enough- and I had to restrain myself from bolting to the door. It wasn’t that being hit on was the worst thing ever, but I really wasn’t that great at being interesting. I didn’t want the disappointment of someone knowing that. London would know that quickly. I just didn’t want to go there.
The next class was English and it was held by a very perky teacher. She brightened as she saw me, “New student?” I could only nod- words not worth speaking in the current situation.
“Students! I’d like to introduce you to a new student. Taylor, right?” I nodded again, “Everyone meet Taylor! Welcome her.” Then Ms. Perked up smiled widely at me, “Take a seat.”
I looked at the seated students, watching as a hand rose in to the air- followed by a familiar voice, “Taylor, sit next to me!” It was Brendon.
So I did.
Brendon leaned over, “Are people being welcoming?”
“Uh- yeah, I suppose so.” I responded.
Brendon laughed, “You’re eating lunch with me today.”
“Okay.” It’s not like I’d object.
English class went by quickly, and I found myself staring at Brendon. He seemed so normal with a glance but then… wasn’t he? I’d done nothing but attempt to judge him so far.
Brendon and I were exiting English class when someone called out my name, catching us both for surprise. “Hey Taylor, it’s me- London.” Oh, great.
Brendon’s eyes widened in surprise but he quickly covered it up as he stopped in place, allowing me to talk to London. “Hey London, and oh- coffee. That’s not for me, is it?”
London grinned, “I cut out early before break to get it.” He extended his hand and I hesitantly grabbed on to the coffee, feeling like accepting it would leave me owing him something… but what? “You never stuck around after class to tell me what I could get you so I got you a caramel cappuccino.”
“Mmm.” Now I really couldn’t deny the offer. “That actually happens to be a favorite of mine. Thank you. How much was it?” I went for my wallet with my free hand but London reached out, grabbing on to it.
I froze, as did Brendon.
How did he know what was going on?
“Don’t worry about it. I wanted to buy it for you.” London smiled a dazzling, disarming smile.
Brendon suddenly spoke up, “London, you don’t want to represent for the newest sexual harassment campaign, do you? Hands off buddy.”
My surprise continued on but London’s smile simply grew as his hand fell away from mine, “You’re right Brendon. Though, it would sure as hell make a lot more people pay attention if they saw my picture.”
“Your notoriety doesn’t extend past your own big head.” Brendon teased.
London took it in stride as he chuckled, “So we’re stuck on the same page with that, are we?”
“It seems so.” Brendon answered.
I had no idea what they were even talking about but I found I didn’t particularly care. The smell of the cappuccino hit my senses and exploded, and I was struggling not to guzzle it down as I took careful sips in an attempt not to burn the taste buds from my tongue.
“Taylor?” Brendon interrupted my thoughts and I glanced up, “Did you leave?”
“I’m right here.” I responded, tapping him on the shoulder. “I’m still standing right beside you. Where’d London go?”
Brendon laughed, “Zone out, did you?”
“I did.” I chuckled. “Sorry.”
“No worries. He said bye.” Brendon informed me, “Break is almost over. What is your next class?”
“Chem.” I groaned, “I hope I don’t light anything on fire. I’m terrible in science labs. Every single school I’ve been to… Well, the story is the same.”
Brendon laughed, “And the story is?”
“I don’t belong anywhere near an open flame.” I grimaced.
Brendon laughed loudly, “Bad balance and flammable. I’ll remember both of those things.” He promised, “So… London?” His tone changed.
“Yeah, he’s… the coffee is delicious. Want a drink?” I offered, straying from any awkward turn in the conversation, though sharing germs could be pretty awkward.
“Sure.” Brendon replied, outstretching his hand.
We both stopped and I placed the cup against Brendon’s hand, watching as he took hold. He brought the cup to his lips and found the hole in the top with his lips. Once found he gently blew before taking a careful sip. I watched the entire thing in awe, finding his lips to look more delicious than the coffee itself.
Brendon then handed me back the cup and I took a long drink, trying to taste his lips. I really wondered what his lips would be like but all I tasted was coffee.
“So, you two are friends?” I finally asked, since I’d kind of wondered through their exchange.
“You could say that.” Brendon answered.
“And here I thought a straight answer might be nice, but that was so much nicer.” I teased.
Brendon laughed, “We’re friends.”
“And you still warned me about him? I figured you’d be trying to set us up instead. It just seems a little backwards for a friend.”
“It’s not backwards at all when I’m your friend too.” Brendon explained, as if it was the clearest thing ever.
“Well, that escalated quickly.” I joked.
Brendon laughed, “That’s how I like things. So I’ll be straight forward about it.” He stopped and reached out, nearly knocking my coffee to the ground. He waved his hands around, “I now declare you my friend!”
I laughed so hard that I dropped my coffee.
It splashed all over the ground, “Uh oh.” Brendon grinned, “You’re bad with balance, open flames, and beverages.”
I just rolled my eyes.
… Then we snuck away.
I felt kind of bad about not cleaning up my mess, but not bad enough to go back and try to clean up a mess in the middle of a hallway filled with teenagers.