She snuggled into the warmth of her sweater as she walked the remaining steps to the school. Summer had officially ended and the rainy days were setting in. She smiled a little at the overcast sky as she slipped quietly into class, determined to disappear into the humdrum of life.
Summer had wrought several monumental changes in her life. In an instant, all that she knew as constant was gone and she had to trade in the familiar for the unprecedented. She loved it, anyway, the bracing feeling of facing the unknown despite the havoc it had unleashed on her routine.
Their instructor walked in and began to orient them on the class rules and procedures. Her mind, as was its tendency, took flight a little over fifteen minutes into the lecture. Her grip slackened on the new pen she had bought for that semester and halted its dance on the fresh pages of her notebook.
Beyond the window, the rain had begun to fall and her thoughts wandered to the pitter-patter of the raindrops on the concrete. She sighed and snapped her attention back to her notes. She loved the rain but it did not do to dwell on things that one loved and forgot about the world of the living. There were exercises to be done, formulas to be computed, and to-dos to accomplish. Her list was already growing and it was only the first day of school.
Scratch, scratch… She did so like the way the fine point of a pen scrawled along a page. It was one of the pleasures she derived from writing, the graceful way the ink filled a blank canvas…
She scowled and paused, her new pen lifted off the page as she turned her eyes to the source of her disturbance. Seated just beside her with bloodshot eyes and full lips quirked into a lazy smirk, he gestured at her notes in an unmistakable manner.
She had half the mind to tell him off, really. He was one of those students who came in to class when they felt like it, copied notes from every one else, and managed to score higher than the rest of the class. It was kind of unfair to the religious note-takers like her but then again, religious note-takers were hardwired to help notorious classmates like him.
She rolled her eyes but nodded imperceptibly because that was what the good girls did. He smiled again in thanks. Conversation over.
He looked up from his beer and saw the girl from his laboratory class walking down the road with another girl from the dorms. She was dressed in a skirt and a plain white blouse peeking from a dark rose sweater, with her dark hair held off from her face by twin barrettes. For a moment, her pale blue eyes looked up from her companion and straight into his.
There was no disdain in them, which was how the dorm girls frequently looked at him. For a moment, she almost looked like a curious sparrow regarding him for the oddity that he was. It was so cute he wanted to puke.
Instead, he raised his bottle to her in a mock salute. Her lips thinned into a line and she nodded in his direction.
He grinned slightly at her disappearing figure and leaned back on the plastic chair he was currently occupying. He would see her tonight to borrow her notes, maybe tease her a little to get a reaction out of her.
Last year, he had quite a bit of fun verbally sparring with her. She could be quite the spitfire and made for a bit of good entertainment. Smart girls — and he meant the really smart ones and not just the bookish ones — were a breath of fresh air.
Later, tonight, he promised himself.
They stood side by side as they waited by the photocopier. It had become almost routine for them, him copying her notes after laboratory, engaging in the usual small talk laced with harmless barbs. Standing so close, he could get a whiff of her perfume without seeming like a pervert sniffing at her person.
He had decided three days ago that he liked her scent.
He liked her handwriting, too, which was why he liked copying her notes instead of the more complete ones from their other classmates. The neat, fine print was unmistakably hers and easier to read than the run-of-the-mill college scrawl.
Too bad that her small handwriting also limited the time they could spend together as they waited to photocopy her notes.
“You’re a bit quiet today,” he remarked.
She wrinkled her nose and shrugged. “I guess I just miss being home.”
He chuckled and gave her cheek a slight pinch, desperately ignoring how soft it felt beneath his fingers. “You need to go out more.”
“And get drunk and raped?” she gasped in horror.
“Good God, no,” he rolled his eyes. “I could come with you, if it would make you feel better. You need to leave that dorm room of yours every once in a while. I swear, girls have been driven mad just staying in their rooms.”
“So you’re saying I should hang out, get drunk and raped, with you?” she snickered. “Umm…I think I’d rather go insane.”
“Don’t flatter yourself,” he scowled, fighting the urge to rub at his chest. It kind of smarted down there. She was really getting good at knowing just which buttons to push.
Damn smart girls.
She raised an eyebrow at his testy tone. “Same goes to you.”
She could be wonderfully dumb at times.He found her staring out the window in between classes, her fingers curled delicately under her chin as she regarded the raindrops. He had heard from one of his friends that she was virtually off-limits because one of the “smart guys” was “kind of” into her in that wordless way of “smart people”. She did not seem cognizant of the guy’s affections, though, which made him smile.
He also heard she “kind of” liked one of his acquaintances, which gnawed at his insides like an irritating pest.
He perched on the windowsill suddenly, knocking her off her reverie. When she glared at him, he grinned annoyingly back at her. Together, they turned their attention back to the bleak view outside.
“I like the rain,” she said softly, her smile almost dreamy. “I like how it washes away everything and makes it all brand new.”
He shrugged. “It can be pretty annoying sometimes but it makes for a fun dare.”
She laughed quietly, the sound like wind chimes dancing in the wind. “How so like you.”
They sat in relative silence for a few moments before he spoke again.
“I dare you.”
She raised an eyebrow at his sudden declaration. “Dare me to what?”
“I dare you to dance in the rain.”
She rolled her eyes at his childish suggestion. “We are kind of too old for that.”
The words hung in the air between them. Somebody kind of liked her; she kind of liked somebody else. She was kind of too old to do something for fun.
He liked her, though. There was no kind of about that.
“One of these days,” he announced, his eyes sparkling with mischief, “you’re going to go dancing in the rain. And you’ll be doing it with me.”
She glared at the offensive piece of technology like it had somehow grown horns and a tail. Those two words taunted her, daring her.
And she was not one to back out of a good dare.
It had been five weeks and three days since he first asked to copy her notes in class, with his bloodshot eyes and smartass grin, reeking of a hangover and God knew what else. She had always known he was going to be bad news but she was one of the good girls and it gave her some sort of false security that she was immune to whatever spell his close proximity could weave on her.
A second beep told her she had a new message.
“I just want to see you before I go back home.“
She was tired of the kind ofs and the what ifs and the maybes. She never heard those words from him.
She felt a sudden surge in adrenaline and she grabbed her umbrella before she could change her mind.
He had been standing on the shed for a good hour before the lights went off from her window. He had been drinking a little that night and before he knew it, he was giving in to the compulsion he had been resisting for the past three weeks.
He sighed and slammed his hands into the pockets of his hoodie. What was he thinking anyway?
Good girls don’t go out with the bad boys. It was so cliché he wanted to stick his finger into his tonsils and gag.
When he looked up again, he saw her standing in the rain in her white shorts and an overlarge pink shirt with an umbrella and all he could think about was that the greatest things in life came in small packages.
They stared at each other for a long time, the unspoken words hanging between them from across the street.
She took the first step. He met her somewhere in between.They did not know how or when it began. She was content to adore another and he was perfectly happy on his own. Before they were even aware it was happening, he was asking to see her one last time before he fell asleep and she was standing in the rain with her umbrella to bid him good night.
When his lips crashed into hers and her good girl senses disintegrated, she could feel the rain, feel its beauty and majesty all around her. She could hear the orchestra of the raindrops as the rapid pitter-patter echoed her hammering heart.
“Dance with me,” he spoke, his voice low and causing her entire system to go haywire.
“You don’t dance.”
He smiled and twirled her with an exaggerated flourish. “I do now.”
♥ ♥ ♥