Warmth for Words

A large, very warm hand wrapped gently around her arm, just above the elbow. "You really should have worn something warmer on a day like this," a smooth baritone voice filled her ears as she spun to face him in surprise. Blue and red lights flashed off of the barren trees and emptied white stone buildings. A flag pole reflected the colors and their image was displayed in a distorted fashion.

"I did!" was her automatic retort as she stepped back from the stranger. "I just left it inside."

"Understandable," he replied before sliding a dark grey hoody over his head. "Here, watching you shiver makes me cold," he said as he offered it to her.

She held her hands out in front of her in protests, taking another step back. "Really I couldn't."

He tossed the warm sweatshirt at her head for her to catch clumsily. "I insist. Seeing you shiver makes me feel colder than just standing here." He stretched his long arms over his head and back, causing his dark blue and yellow "Hornets" shirt to rise above his dark jeans and ride up his stomach.

Feeling like she was watching a show, she tried to show him she wasn't interested and quickly pulled the sweatshirt over her head. Her head popped out the top as her arms dangled uselessly in the too long sleeves; at least her hands wouldn't be cold. The bottom of the sweatshirt went down to her thighs and the excess material surrounded her like a blanket.

"Thank you," she said softly as she glanced up to meet the boy's light brown eyes. As they took in her appearance he began to grin and his eyes twinkled a dark honey color. He ran a hand through his messy light brown hair. "You're welcome." He stuck out a hand for her to shake, "I'm Matt."

Again she was caught off guard by his forward actions, "Theresa, it's nice to meet you." She pulled up the sleeves and took his hand in a firm, yet not crushing handshake. Again it was impressed on her how large his hand was. And warm.

"You are really cold," he commented with a grin.

"I always am. I mean my hands are always cold and I get cold easily. Comes with being small I guess," she prattled nervously.

He just smiled down at her. She looked down at her scuffed shoes and kicked a rock.

"So do you think there was actually a fire?" she asked forcing her eyes to meet his once more.

"Nah, though I doubt they have many fire drills in college. Someone probably panicked and pulled the alarm. Or saw a pretty girl he wanted to talk to and took a chance, one of the two. He was smiling at her in that smirk-like way: charming, yet distrustful.

She resumed her gaze at her worn sneakers. "A kid at my grade school lit an overhead on fire once with paper."

"Ah yes," he said seriously, "death by light bulb."

She jerked her head back up to stare at him. Seeing his dancing eyes and wide grin she looked back down with a smile tugging at her lips.

"So we're between panicked freshman, a beautiful stranger, and a pyromaniac?" he asked her.

She shrugged and nodded in a noncommittal fashion.

"Well, I have it on good authority it was the second. What would you say to that?"

She calculated him a moment with a small glare and a twist over her mouth. "If he didn't have the courage to approach the girl on any other day why would he have the courage to pull the fire alarm to talk to her?" she asked, refusing to fell flattered or hopeful.

"Maybe he just saw her for the first time today," he replied not letting her eyes leave his, apart from intensity there was no visible emotion.

"Are they in the same class?" she asked, uncomforted by his gaze.

"Yes."
"Why didn't he just sit next to her?"
"What if he did and she didn't notice?"

She thought a moment before realizing the boy with red hair and glasses hadn't sat on her left that day. "Why wouldn't he say something to her?"

"What if he did?"
She remembered the pen she had passed to her left. "Why not wait until after class?"

"Maybe she would have left."

"Maybe she would have left with the alarm, most everyone else has."

"Maybe she stayed."

"Maybe she met a creepy boy and is arguing with him right now," she finished for him frustrated.

He opened his mouth to reply when the high pitched screech of a speaker sounded followed by a voice, "No fire has been found. This building is safe. Please return to class."

She wriggled free from his hoody and reached out to give it to him. "Thanks," she said ignoring their former argument. He refused it, but she tossed it at him anyway.

He accepted it with a wry smile and they walked back to class. He did not put the sweatshirt back on, but instead put it on the right of his notebook.

When the bell rang ten minutes later dismissing the few stragglers who had waited out the fire he bolted from the row before she could even ask for her pen back. She sighed as she dragged her backpack out from under her desk and replaced her own pen in her pencil case and her notebook in her bag. She stood up, putting her heavy bag on her chair before reaching under the table for her coat.

She slowly pushed one hand through when she saw the grey patch on his chair. She removed her hand from the sleeve and laid her coat on her bag. She picked up his sweatshirt and checked the tag: no name.

She glanced towards the door and around the room, no one was paying her the slightest bit of attention, so she quickly pulled the sweatshirt over her head once more. She donned her back and draped her coat over her arms to hide the dangling sleeves and walked out of the classroom.

He wasn't in the hallway or on the staircase or even waiting by the flowerbed where they had talked. He was nowhere to be seen. She shrugged and pulled up the sleeves to poke a hand cautiously into the pocket. She frowned as she pulled out a neatly folded piece of paper.

And maybe she was interested enough in this creepy boy to take his sweatshirt. Maybe she's even wearing it right now. I'll trade you warmth for words any day.