Giovanna, or Gigi as she was called by her nearest and dearest friends, rushed down the hallway of Martingale Preparatory High School. She clutched her twenty-seven-page marsupial research paper which had taken her all month to write against her chest. Her teacher had only requested a five-page paper, but there were just so many interesting facts about marsupials that she just couldn’t stop.
It was Gigi’s last class of the school year, and, unlike her, she was running late. But, like her typical self, she also wasn't watching where she was going.
“Oh no!” Gigi said as her entire kumquat smoothie ran down the shirt of the cutest boy in school. "Sorry... I didn't... Oops... My smoothie... Sorry... I wasn't watching... The marsupials... Sorry.”
Colton smiled. Two dimples appeared on either side of his lips. "It's all right. I didn't like this shirt that much anyway. What was that about marsupials?"
"Nothing... I... Well, there's this paper," Gigi said. She heaved up the massive folder, which held her twenty-seven-page paper, so that Colton could see it. "I had to choose between marsupials and Richard Dingo, the prodigious didgeridoo player, and of course I chose marsupials because I love animals, not that I don't love didgeridoo players, it’s just I like animals betterer... I mean more better, I mean better. I like animals a lot, though horses are my favorite."
Gigi stopped to gasp for air.
"Hay! You like horses too!" Colton said, taking advantage of the moment of silence while Gigi caught her breath. "I’ve been working with horses my whole life. I'm currently working on trying to break in an especially obstreperous horse down at the stable."
Gigi blinked. She had no idea what obstreperous meant, but it didn't matter because she was currently lost in Colton's endless dark brown pools for eyes. He kept talking, but Gigi was no longer listening. She stared at Colton for a while, her mouth hanging open like a dead fish. The papers she had been holding slipped from her fingers and scattered across the hallway of Martingale Preparatory High School.
“Whoops!” Gigi said, snapping out of her daze. She stared in horror at her jumbled research project.
“Here, let me help you with that,” Colton said, kneeling to pick up the papers.
Gigi’s face was bright red as she leaned down to help.
“Whoa, this is a long paper,” Colton said as he scooped up the twenty-seventh page and handed it back to Gigi. “I had to write a paper last semester about the dichotomy between pets and wild animals. The draft was nearly fifteen pages long, which was much longer than it was supposed to be, but I just couldn’t stop. I find it interesting that people treat their pets with such care and then can be so harsh to wild animals."
“Great,” Gigi said, though she hadn’t really heard a word Colton had said. This was the first time they have even really spoken, and she still couldn’t believe it was actually happening.
"Oww," Colton grunted as he rose to his feet.
“Are you all right?” Gigi asked.
"Yeah. I just pulled my hamstring in track today,” Colton said. “Coach just said to rest it for a few days. I’ll be fine.”
"I like your necklace," Gigi blurted out. She had been staring at the kumquat stain on Colton’s shirt when she noticed it. It was a shimmering blue jewel attached to a silver chain. If Gigi hadn’t known better, she could have sworn that it glowed.
"Oh, actually, it's an amulet," Colton said. "My aunt was visiting Archipelago a few summers ago when she got it for me. I never take it off. Well, except at night."
"That's cool," Gigi said. "My aunt has never given me anything before. All she does is tell me way too many stories about her menopause." Gigi turned a brighter shade of red than she had been before. "Sorry... I don't know why... I have to go," she muttered. "Late for... class."
Before Colton could say anything more, Gigi was already halfway to class as her class was just a few steps away.
That was embarrassing, she thought as she reached the door to her classroom. She was thankful that today was the last day of school. Now she wouldn't have to see Colton for the rest of the summer, so there would be no more awkward run-ins. Or, at least, that’s what she thought…