The buzzing vibration no longer irritated me as it faded into the background. I had been patiently sitting still for the past hour and a half, trying not to think of the pain but it was becoming intolerable. I just had to look away in hopes to find solace in my friend's sympathetic stare. I was sure of her support only it was hard to read in her fidgety facial expressions.
"And we're done" said the man in the chair.
I stretched my back as I sat up to correct my posture. I had been longing to hear those words. And there displayed on my wrist, my very first tattoo, a brassy vintage compass. I chose this image to mark the beginning of this new journey…college. I've yearned to feel this freedom my whole 18 years of life. And next week I would be well on my way to moving in the dorms with my best friend, Beverly.
I'm grateful for this upcoming chapter in my life; I was almost unable to have. Sadly, my grandfather passed away a few months ago, leaving me a generous inheritance to cover my full 4 years of college. I recognize that not everyone gets this amazing blessing, and I was more than relieved that I wouldn't have to find a job right away; for my first year anyways.
I was tired of having the same old boring and safe look I sported all through high school. That didn't prevent me from having a lot of friends or periodical boyfriends, but along with this turning point in my life, I felt I deserved a fresh look to my fresh start. So Beverly and I made our makeover appointments, and while she got a layered cut I decided to chop all of my hair off; most of it at least. They cut 13 inches off of my hazelnut brown locks. My head sure felt lighter I'll give you that. My short layered bob had a little flare to it, with my right side being slightly longer than my left.
Once I was all done, I couldn't stop there, and that brought me to this tattoo parlor. I've been wanting this tattoo for about a year now and thought what better crazy moment than the present. I couldn't stop looking at it, it was beautiful and what it represented for me made it that much more special. I could travel the world if I dared to. 'The sky was the limit' right?
This fabulous day wasn't over yet. Beverly and I took off for the mall to continue our transformation search, with a new wardrobe. What better time to go shopping with all the back to school specials. Four hundred dollars later we were about done, but not before grabbing a coffee on our way out of Barnes and Noble. We gathered all of our bags under the table and waited for our hot drinks. The pain in my wrist reminded me it was time to clean my pretty wound. So I told Bev that I would be back shortly as I showed her my reason.
Returning from the bathroom minutes later, I got distracted by the bargain aisles and thought it couldn't hurt to take a gander. I have a vast collection of fiction, particularly romance and sci-fi, and world history books. So when I should happen to find two selections on both subjects, I was left in a mental rut. So much so, that I let out an unexpected groan of frustration, not knowing that I wasn't alone.
"Having a tough time deciding?" said a man nearby.
"Yes, I'd get them both but I've already spent my limit today." I responded, without looking up.
"Hmmm…I actually heard that was a good one." He pointed towards the sci-fi pick.
I appreciated his input but the truth was they both were half off.
"You know, I'm just going to get them both!" I caved. "Thank you though."
I finally looked up to return a kind smile to the gentleman, but I had assumed he was older. I assumed wrong. I had seen through the corner of my eye, that he had black slacks and shoes. While on top he sported a more casual gray shirt. His voice wasn't even that older, though how was I to have noticed I was too busy with my own dilemma.
"Oh did you just get that done?" He motioned with his head while looking at my tattoo.
"Yes as a matter of fact. It's still tender and swollen."
"Is that your first?" He continued.
I nodded meanwhile noticing he had one peeking through his short sleeve.
"What's your of?" I pointed curiously.
He pushed back his sleeve to reveal a not only an amazing Celtic cross but a handsome muscular bicep; and I'm not usually given the opportunity to stare so long at these without looking creepy.
"I'm half Irish, so it's more of a family pride symbol for me." He explained.
"I like it, especially how they did that there…" I said referring to the intricate shadings.
"Thanks. Does yours mean anything?"
"Yes. To embrace my life as a journey that points any and every direction. As cheesy as that probably sounds." I shrugged.
"Not at all, you put some thought into it. I like that. I can't stand when people get tats just for the trend and it doesn't have any meaning behind it. "
"Do you have any more?" I was so intrigued now.
"I have a back piece but it's not finished yet. I'd show you but…oh you know what?" He remembered pulling out his phone.
He took a few seconds fiddling with his screen, meanwhile I had forgotten that Beverly was waiting for me back at the table and I knew she would be peeved if I didn't hurry soon.
"Here it is." He handed it over to me.
Okay, big mistake! Not only was he clearly buff and toned but the amazing scent that floated around him was arousing my nostrils. I couldn't tell if it was his deodorant or cologne but as he was leaning next to me I was almost tempted to ask him. Impairing my vision, when I finally focused in on the picture I couldn't help feel like I was staring straight at a miniature poster board. The photo was in black and white and showed that it was definitely a huge piece; a detailed illustration of a shipwreck caused by a monstrous wave. I wouldn't have known it wasn't done if he hadn't mentioned anything.
"That. Looks awesome! I can't imagine how much that had to hurt."
"Yup, it hasn't been an easy one. But that's what I get for wanting such a big tat." He raised his eyebrows and pressed his lips together.
"Well I have to get back to my friend, she's been waiting at the table and I simply couldn't help myself." I said raising the evidence in my hands.
"Sure, no problem. It was nice talking to you. I'm Lucas by the way." He stuck out his hand.
"I'm Hailey. it was nice meeting you too. I love your tattoos." I said shaking his hand.
"Thanks. Be sure to take care of that one."
"I will. Bye now." I smiled.
I walked away thinking he was the coolest guy I had ever met. I believe my new look was giving me a boast of self-confidence because these encounters didn't normally happen to me. I looked back happily and he gave back a short wave good bye. And that was the end of that.
I was rehearsing an apology when I spotted the café employee talking with Bev at the table. This gave me peace of mind as she wasn't by her lonesome. No harm done here so I decided to quickly purchase my books. Waiting in line, I started to scope out the cd selection on the stands right before me.
"Oh no, more decisions." A voice said behind me.
I looked back with a moderate scowl and let out a quiet laugh.
"C'mon I'm not that bad. I'm practicing self-control as we speak." I confessed.
"That's what they always say." Lucas teased and rolled his eyes. "But if you had to buy one, this would be the choice."
I took the cd he held in his hand and studied it momentarily.
"I didn't mean to add on to the temptation though." He smirked.
"Ha ha thanks buddy. Now I'm suffering through buyer's remorse." I joked.
"Well, just check them out online first. You don't have to take my word for it. Just because they're my favorite band…"
"See now I have to believe you because you have such great taste in tattoos, so who's to say you don't have good taste in music?" I assumed.
"Exactly, so you have nothing to lose."
They called me next, but I had placed the cd back anyway; I just couldn't spend anymore. He was called to the next register immediately after. I escaped a glance or two in the few minutes it took to ring me up. He never caught me but that doesn't mean he didn't know.
"Well if that is all for you mam, I'd like to thank you for shopping at Barnes and Noble. Have a great day!" said the cashier.
I thanked her and was about to walk around the racks to head back but I still had to pass behind Lucas. I was wondering if it would be awkward to say good bye again, yet in a matter of seconds he managed to catch me and handed me a small bag.
"You'll thank me later." He smiled.
"Are you kidding me?" I laughed silently while timidly receiving my gift, the cd of course.
"It's my treat; I couldn't have you leaving without knowing that you were actually going to listen to them. So enjoy it." He waved good bye one last time while wandering towards the exit.
I strolled on back to the table, but my mind was back there by the registers, replaying our conversation before he was out of my life…forever.
"And you didn't exchange numbers?" cried Beverly after I spilled everything.
"He didn't ask for mine, so I didn't think to." I reasoned.
"What if he didn't think you were interested?"
"We had a great chat about tattoos and his favorite band. I thought I was being friendly enough. Maybe I was too nervous to read if he was or not." I wondered.
"The guy bought you a CD…Hello?"
"Good point. Well forget about it now, he's gone. This has been a fantastic day, let's not ruin it shall we?"
I drank my now cold coffee and gathered our bags to leave.
We were on the road once again; leaving behind our childhood memories and on a quest to make new ones. Our car was packed with trash bags of clothes, books and dorm accessories. I blasted my new CD on the stereo. I was doubtful but actually ended up loving this album. I played it at least a dozen times this past weekend and there was even a specific slow song that reminded me solely of Lucas. But I knew I was bound to never see him again.
When we arrived at the dorm, it was my task to set everything up while Bev brought the things in. Excited about our new cozy place and even more curious about our campus, we went and took a walk once we had finished. There was still so much commotion, people moving back and forth with furniture and boxes. It was sure hard to believe this was our new home.
The next day, our first day, Beverly and I had only 3 classes, starting with Mathematics then Political Science and last French. I must say that it was way too early to be doing any math equations, especially having skipped on my coffee this morning. But next we had Political Science, and to tell you the truth, I wasn't all that excited about it. The room was smaller yet the students filled every seat. We were all settled in and waiting for the professor to walk in. I was talking with Bev sitting behind me when we heard the door shut.
"Good Morning, I'm Mr. Haws and I hope you all know that this is Political Science. Yes Po-li-ti-cal Science. And while my mission isn't to bore you to sleep, I know it's early in the day, but I will try my best to at least keep your interest for the first 90 minutes or so." He said in good humor while handing out the syllabus to the front row.
While the papers were being passed back he kept making conversation with us, breaking the ice. Some comments were even of him making fun of himself, which had us all snickering. Like about his nerdy glasses for instance and how geeks were the new hot accessory this semester.
"…So ladies, give the nice guys a chance will you?" He smirked while adjusting his glasses.
"This professor is awesome, I like him already." Beverly whispered to me.
I nodded in full agreement.
We began taking notes on some crucial terms that he wanted us to remember for later.
"Why are you jotting this down you ask? Simple, for your first quiz next Monday…Oh no! Oh yes!" He gave an evil grin.
At that moment I had a strange feeling, especially with his 'oh no' remark. He closed the book from where he was reading from and stood leaning in front of his desk facing us. He began to ask students simple questions like 'what we thought about the government and as a citizen how much knowledge should we be exposed to as far as how the political system worked and so forth'. I never cared to answer these questions before nevertheless I was intrigued to know his response.
As he continued to listen, he placed his book behind him and removed his glasses. And it was then that I finally recognized him, underneath some facial stubble. I rested my forehead in the palm of my hand, almost scared to look up again, wondering if he would even remember me. As vain as it sounds, yes I did a quick appearance check to make sure I still looked as 'cool' as that day. I looked on over at my wrist that lay on my desk, it was completely healed and immediately I was brought back to that book store where it all began.
Who's to say anything was even going to happen. I say began as though I had a shot at starting something with this attractive professor, my professor. Not to mention my confusion on how old he really was. To distract myself from looking up I kept doodling on my notebook while continuously tucking my ear behind my ear.
The bell sounded only it rang more like a military buzzard. Now I only had to get past Lucas before I could breathe normally again. I was ready to make my swift left turn right before reaching his desk when I saw him look up for a second and then up again whilst he sorted his desk.
"Well well. So did you like that CD?" He grinned.
Gasps, he did remember me. I casually hit the brakes and remained there now relieved.
"I did, I loved it actually. So thank you again."
"I knew you would. You're welcome…what are the odds huh?" He insinuated.
Knowing exactly what he was hinting at I shrugged my shoulders and smiled.
"They say it's a small world for a reason right?" I then regretted saying something so stupid.
"You know, if you liked that band so much…they are actually going to be playing in town next week, close to the campus. You should check them out live." He suggested.
I couldn't help but love how he continued to talk to me as he did that first time. Maybe he just had that easy going personality that could strike up great conversations with students and random strangers. Even though he told me of the concert, I didn't hear him say anything about us actually going together. So I just carried on chatting and was satisfied that I had an advantage over the rest of the students. Or so I thought anyway.
"I'm finally going to finish my back piece in a couple of days. Did yours heal up nicely?" He asked.
It took me a second to realize just what he was talking about but when I did I shook my head and showed him my forearm. In that instance he barely touched my arm to get a steady look. I could feel the tickle of his warm fingertips and the sensation remained there once he finished observing it.
"Yeah, it looks great. Will you be getting anymore?"
"I don't know yet. I think I will, but it can't just be anything you know?" I replied.
He shook his head as though he understood. The friendly chit chat was dying down and I forbade there to be any awkward silence. So I began to take baby steps towards the door.
"Well it's nice to see you again Hailey and to have you in my class." He smiled.
"I know, what are the odds?" I laughed and retreated.