At school, Brian nearly does a face plant in Jordan’s chest, and finds out irrefutably, that she’s a girl. Embarrassed, and trying to get over it, he gets to class only to find out they are lab partners. Jordan meets the snooty, straight laced Marissa for the first time.
“So, who’s your girlfriend?”
“Not my girlfriend, Marissa.”
“She seems very chummy.”
“Oh?” he wasn’t sure what to say.
“Yes, she’s hanging on you and practically ravaging you in public.” Not only was Marissa popular, she was highly religious and very judgmental.
“That’s because we’re lovers,” Jordan said as she plunked a beaker on the desk. “Brian just rocks my world! Maybe you wouldn’t be such a super, uptight bitch if you found the right guy.”
Marissa turned red and hurried off. Jordan laughed, watching her rush off to her table. She huddled with her lab partner, pointing at Jordan.
“And that was necessary, why?” Brian asked quietly.
“Cause it’s so much fun to see her look like she just sucked a lemon.”
“You know you’ve just ruined my reputation,” Brian said, trying to sound hurt.
“Oh, the carefully crafted one where you’re a complete tool? Sorry. We’ll see if we can work on that after class.”
Laughing, Brian set up the equipment while Jordan read through the experiment. Together, they measured ingredients and started mixing. Their teacher came by, hands clasped behind his back.
“Good job, Jordan,” the young science teacher complimented.
“Thanks, Mr. Sullivan. Brian helped.”
The teacher, who was staring at her chest, smiled slightly as he passed by.
“Speaking of tools,” Jordan whispered. “Is he a perv or what? My boobs are very popular today.”
Brian shifted slightly. “He’s just a guy, Jordan. We all stare at a woman’s boobs. And I wasn’t staring on purpose.”
Jordan giggled, covering her mouth with the back of her hand. “I forgive you. But I think it’s precious how you try to defend the fact that you nearly had your face down my shirt.”
“Laugh too much, I won’t help with math.”
She sobered immediately. “Fine. I’ll behave.”
They finished their experiment, wrote down their notes and cleaned up before the bell. They had four out of seven classes together, the only differences were PE, which were separate, and their electives Brian had Spanish and shop. Jordan had theatre and chorus.
They met up at their lockers at the end of the day and hurried to the bus stop. The weather had warmed, so Jordan carried her jacket. She hopped onto the bus and the driver didn’t recognize her. It took some fast talk to convince him that she had given him her bus pass the day before. Once Brian vouched for her, he relented.
“Tell you the truth, I thought you was a boy. Big, ol’ coat and a boy’s name. Kinda confusing.”
“Yeah. I get that a lot,” Jordan said in a condescending tone that was totally lost on the driver.
The ride home was just as uncomfortable as the ride that morning. The difference was, that Brian had someone to walk home with. Jordan’s house was only a couple blocks from his, not quite as deep into the woods. He walked her home before heading to his own house.
“If you want, I’ll drop by in the morning and walk with you.”
“Would you? That would be so great! I hate that early morning walk in the dark. I—see things—in the woods. It creeps me out.”
“Yeah. I don’t mind.” He paused, wondering how much he should say. He decided to give it a try. If she thought he was crazy, fine. But if she was having the same experiences he’d had….
“What—uh—what kind of things?” he tried to sound casual, but knew he’d failed when her eyes darted to his face.
“You’ve seen stuff too?” she whispered harshly. “Tell me.”
“I asked first.”
They were at her house. Jordan invited him up to sit on the porch swing.
“Yesterday morning, I was on the way to the bus stop and I swear I saw—things in the woods. Like ghosts, wraiths….”
Brian gasped. “Me too. Did they chase you?”
Jordan didn’t say anything, she merely looked terrified.
“At the risk of sounding completely insane, can I tell you something?” he asked quietly.
Brian told her about his experiences. He also told her about meeting the group from Louisiana. He left nothing out of his story, even including the bear incident. He still wasn’t convinced that was a coincidence.
“I would have been screaming,” Jordan confessed.
“You think I wasn’t? Screaming like a baby. I thought I was gonna die.”
© 2016 Dellani Oakes