Helpless and Radiant

 Jason was in love with Sarah in the way that only a 17 year-old-boy who has never spoken a word to his loved one can be.  He both hurried and trudged to math class where he knew he’d be spending another long and fleeting hour sitting just slightly behind and across from her, close enough to reach out and tap her on the shoulder to ask for a pencil that he did not need if he only had had the temerity to do so.

She was beautiful in a sort of girl-next-door, I’m-not-looking-to-crush-your-heart, Zooey-Deschanel kind of way.  He loved her for how her knee bounced all through math lectures, for how she alternately frowned, and smiled, and tapped her pencil eraser against her forehead all the way through a math test.

But what held him helplessly and hopelessly in love was how she would, in a moment of boredom or contemplation, suddenly sit up straight and, using both hands, gather up her lustrous brown hair, begin to twist and swirl it as if she was going to tie it in a knot or whip a rubber band around it to create a pony tail, and for a moment hold it atop her head like an elegant updo, before giving her head a shake and letting it all fall once again to her shoulders.  It was just such a girlish and sensuous thing to do.  Something about that simple motion killed him every time.

Today though, she just sat through class, looking quietly radiant in her everyday jeans, a vibrant t-shirt, and jean jacket. As the class was nearing the end of the period, and he pretended to be working on his homework for the night, he watched her doodling on a piece of rainbow-colored paper, surely a note for a girlfriend that she would pass on her way to fourth period.  He wrenched his thoughts away from her and tried working his way through the math problems, enjoying the brief respite from the pleasure of thinking of her.

He was trying to finish the last one, still immersed in gradient equations, when the bell rang, and so he was startled to look up and find Sarah standing next to his desk with her dark eyes fixed directly on him. She placed the note that he had assumed was for a girl friend on the corner of his desk and slid it toward him.  She smiled as she let her fingers linger on the note.

“You know, Jason, nothing is ever going to happen if you don’t try talking to me rather than just staring at me all through class every day.”

A smile tugged at the corners of her mouth and she let her hand trail from his desk as she turned, slung her backpack over one shoulder and made her way through the crowd and out the door.  

He opened the note.  It simply said “Call me!” with her phone number written underneath and the entire message surrounded with swirls that filled up the rest of the page except for a heart in one corner and a smiley face in the other.  A heart and a smiley face!  That was important, wasn’t it?

In the course of just a few moments, he suddenly no longer hated being 17.  He thought that maybe this year could turn out to be the best year of his life.  Or maybe the worst. He really wasn’t sure at all.