It was that time of the season again. The smell of pumpkin spice everything was in the air and the tree tops were filled with a beautiful gradient of colors from yellow to red. I inhaled deeply to welcome the start of autumn. I left the house early so I could enjoy the outdoors before being locked away in my high school until the sun starts to set. It was the start of a whole new year alone with the same old assholes as the years before. I tried not to let that cross my mind as I approached the bridge that marked the half-way point to school.
I always liked to stop at the bridge and admire the view. The bridge crossed high over-top a beautiful flowing river. I went there often when I needed to clear my head. I was walking looking up at the clouds. The sky was breathtaking, and the wind caressed me as it flowed through my short black hair and around my dark gray hoodie and jeans. From the corners of my eyes I could see the tree tops disappear as I started to make my way across the bridge. A little while after the last treetop left my field of view I noticed what I thought at first to be another tree top. When I pulled my chin down from the clouds I realized I was halfway across the bridge. Unless a tree grew in the middle of the river I had seen something else. I turned around and saw a girl standing there.
The first thing I noticed was her hair which was the color of autumn leaves; I assumed it was because of faded hair dye. It hung about an inch past her shoulders. She looked about five feet three inches tall because she was much shorter than me. She wore ripped skin tight jeans and a black hoodie with the character Gir from the cartoon Invader Zim on it. Her messenger bag matched her hoodie. She must have heard my footsteps stop abruptly because it wasn’t long after I noticed her standing there that she turned and noticed me. Her astonishingly bright blue eyes met mine and I felt like I had been shot in the chest. I hadn’t anticipated her noticing me and I almost never make eye contact with anyone. I felt terrified and I think that came from how I was raised. Most parents teach their kids to always look people in the eyes when they talk to you. It’s a sign of respect and it’s the polite thing to do. That wasn’t the case in my Father’s house. As a matter of fact it was the exact opposite- if you looked him in the eyes it was taken as a challenge. So I averted my eyes to where she was looking previously.
I’m sure she noticed my fear because she came over to where I was standing, leaned on the rail looking out at the river below and said “It’s beautiful here, don’t you think so?” with an almost sympathetic voice.
“Yeah, especially this time of year,” I replied loosening up a bit.
I leaned on the rail next to her and we watched the river flow for a minute before I broke the silence.
“Do you go to school at Pine Hill?”
“As of this year I do. I was actually on my way when I noticed how beautiful the view was up here.” She said.
“Yeah I come through here to get to school all the time,” I told her. “My name is Alex.”
She smiled and said “My name’s Emma. Would you mind if I walked with you to school?”
I told her it wasn’t a problem at all and we started to head for school. In the short time we had before we reached school we talked some more. I told her what to expect from most of the other kids at this school. She told me that she gets how that is because people like that are the reason she was moved to this school. They got out of hand and gave her a lot of trouble that she retaliated to and ended up here. I joked with her saying that I have to be careful around her then because she's vicious. That made her giggle a bit.
We finally reached school and she thanked me for walking with her to class. I thanked her for walking with me because it’s usually a boring walk. This was only half true because I did like to listen to the wind rush through the treetops, but it was much nicer to talk with her. I headed off to class and I didn’t see her again until it was time for lunch. When I entered the cafeteria I saw her sitting at a table alone. She was reading a book while she ate her lunch-which it looked like she brought from home. I wanted to sit over there with her, in fact I had planned on it before lunch time even came around. The only thing was I got nervous like I tend to do in new situations. Then I remembered something my cousin who studied psychology told me-“Feel the fear and do it anyways”. This phrase often popped into my head when I felt uncomfortable. So I did just that; I felt afraid, but I went over to her anyway. I started to think about how it might not be so awkward if I just let my goofy side take over. I made my way to her table avoiding her vision and came around behind her, tapped her left shoulder, and slid into a seat one away from her as fast as I could. To my surprise, she freaked out. She dropped her book and let out a scream as she immediately grabbed her arms and put her head down. I felt terrible about scaring her so I moved to the seat directly next to her and started apologizing. I told her it was only me, and that I was so sorry and didn’t mean to scare her so bad and I put my hand on her arm gently. I told her she was alright and when she finally looked up I saw pure terror in her eyes. They lost their sparkle and there were tears on her face. When she realized it was me her eyes turned to relief and then straight into anger.
“Leave me alone,” she said grinding her teeth.
The rest of the day I felt horrible about what I did; it was all I could think about until school was over. I didn’t try to find her after school because I assumed she would still be pissed at me. After all, we had just met and I pulled a stunt like that. I should have just sat next to her like a normal person but no, I had to try and be goofy. I headed home and when I reached the bridge I heard a voice from behind me say
“Hey wait up, punk!”
I turned around just to see Emma trying to catch up to me. I noticed that the anger didn’t exist in her eyes anymore, but she did have a devilish smile on her face. When she finally caught up to me, she said
“So we finally meet again, huh? I was looking for you.”
“I thought you were still upset with me so I just headed home” I said.
“I’m not going to hold a grudge with someone I just met, but try something like that again and I will make you feel worse than you did earlier,” she replied, lightly punching my left arm as she stuck out her tongue through her smile.
“You should have seen your face,” she said giggling.
“I was just shocked,” I said trying to cover it up while smiling.
“Shocked? Yeah right. You acted like I kicked a puppy.” She said smiling.
“Well you practically did telling me to leave you alone,” I replied.
That made her laugh which made me laugh too. We walked to the center of the bridge and talked for a while as we looked out at the river and every now and then at each other. We talked about random things like how her first day here was and what classes we were taking. It turned out that we had Spanish class every other day together. After what seemed like a few hours the sun was almost gone, so I asked her if she wanted me to walk her home.
“What a gentleman,” she said in a horrible British accent with a smile on her face.
“Lead the way your majesty.” I said, playing along.
We laughed and joked our way to her street. Once we reached the top of her street she stopped walking suddenly. I asked her what was wrong and she told me jokingly that she didn’t want someone she just met to know what house she lived in.
“Okay your greatness” I said as I bowed “Have a wonderful night” and I started walking away.
“You’re not going to kiss my hand sir?” She replied in that horrible British accent again.
I laughed, shook my head, and waved as I kept walking “Have a great night Emma.” I said.
“You too, see you tomorrow” she said still laughing a little bit.