As I walked towards the gate a quarter to three, my friends rushed to me.
“Where have you been all day?” Celestina Evans, or simply Tina, asked, her red hair tied up in a loose bun, her skin bathed in orange sunlight.
“Classes, then at the Veritas office. You know…”
“So, have you finished your story already?” another friend, Caroline Beaumont inquired.
“Yes, I have,” I said, smiling.
“So, are you available this afternoon?”
“Not yet, sorry,” I said with a natural tone of tiredness in my voice, and I think they noticed it.
“It’s okay. We understand you,” Caroline told me.
“Yes. You look as tired as my grandmother. You really need some rest,” Tina said.
“Thanks, guys. You are the best,” I said, throwing them a grateful look as we passed through the gate. “By the way, where are you going?”
“At KFC. It’s my mom’s birthday party. She asked me if I could invite the both of you,” Tina explained.
“Oh, please tell her I’m sorry I couldn’t come. And a happy birthday to her,” I said pleadingly.
“Sure,” she replied, smiling.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” I said, hugging her.
They went to the left pathway and waved at me goodbye, and vice versa.
There were still a lot of students heading home at the main road, but there is no trace of another familiar face there.
So that means I’m all alone.
Some of them went over the bushes to do some things like wrestling games (I overheard them talk about it), some made a curve on a different way.
At last, only a boy was left all by himself. He’s got thick, wavy hair and fair complexion.
He paced in front of me quickly, as though he was afraid that someone’s following him.
Well, too bad. I already am.
Suddenly, he twisted his neck, and I recognized his face.
He’s the guy I met by the Art Studio.
“Hey!” I called, and grinned at him.
“Hey!” he repeated, returning the smile.
“Aren’t you the guy who I met by the studio?”
“Yes,” he said, slowing down to let me walk beside him.
“Why did you look so worried yesterday?” I asked, and regretted for letting my tongue to release it.
But he didn’t seem to mind.
“I have to draw something and I wasn’t able to finish it early. Procrastination, obviously. The due was today, but I was glad I was able to submit it,” he explained.
“Oh, so you’re from the Visual Arts Club,” I said. An obviously guess. If there was a desk here, I would’ve smacked my forehead on it already.
“Yes,” he said. “Well, what about you? I heard you and Mr. Wickes talk inside the studio.”
“I was asked by Mr. Mitchell to go to the Art Studio and look for some guy ‘Christopher Lane’—”
“Oh, God, that’s me,” he said, cutting through me. My jaw fell open, and I stared at him.
“You’re the one who submitted the drawings for the school paper at the Veritas office?”
“Yes, I am,” he said. “I met Mr. Mitchell at the studio this morning, and he told me congratulations on being able to pass them on time. Almost sarcastically. He almost scared me,” Christopher said with a shiver.
“Nice to meet you then,” I said, holding up my right hand between us. He took and shook it.
“What did he think about those things?”
“I don’t know, but you should’ve seen the staff’s reaction,” I told him with a grin.
“Why? Was it bad?”
“No, not at all. I also saw them, and, I have to admit, it was beautiful.”
His brows rose up and his eyes were suddenly filled with need for assurance. “Really?”
“Really, really. Even our editor-in-chief was impressed.”
“I never thought it would be impressing,” he said, shaking his head in amazement.
“You thought of the wrong scenario of reactions then,” I said, giving him a smile.
There was silence, only to be broken by Christopher.
“How did you know about their reactions?”
“Well,” I started. “I also work for the school paper. We were both in the same dilemma yesterday. I also didn’t finish my story, and I have to stay all night.”
He slightly frowned, a little crease forming between his brows. “Story?”
“Yes. I was assigned to handle the entertainment part of the paper. Mine’s writing story, since it’s my specialty. My name’s Jenna Young, by the way.”
I continued to walk, and I realized he stopped on his tracks. I turned around and saw him standing on a spot three meters behind me.
“Jenna Young?” he asked.
“Yup,” I said, giving him a smile of confusion. “Why?”
“Your stories are the only reason why I get a copy of the school paper every time it comes out ever since I got one at Freshman High,” he said, looking at me in awe.
I felt my face burn. “Thank you.”
“Your first story was the reason I made that kind of comic.”
My cheeks seemed to grow warmer after he said that. “Really? That story when a girl’s parents divorced and she didn’t have hope anymore?”
He nodded. “Except at the end, I made the boy retain his hope that Jesus would still come back.”
I began to feel sorry that I was acting that way. His story pierced me right through the bones, but I felt that it won’t still be able to turn me around.
“—very nice,” I said, letting the inappropriate kind of words flow from my mouth. I know he deserved to be admired with the right choice of words, but I don’t know why those were the ones that escaped my throat.
Even though he sent me a thankful smile, I still think I should’ve used bigger words.
I realized that I’m already in front of our house. I turned to Christopher and said, “I guess I have to go now. My house is just over here.” I pointed at the house at my right.
“Sure. Nice meeting you, Jenna.”
“Same to you, Christopher,” I said with a smile as I walked backwards towards the house.
“Just call me Chris,” he said.
“Bye, Chris!” I called as he walked on. He waved at me with a glad look on his face, and he turned around to head back home.