The hunt was on.
After 3rd period, I headed straight for Sarah in the over-crowded hallways of our school, and I found Max along the way. I was so determined, that I almost strolled across the 'holy' Tiger Tile, where it is legend that if anyone were to step on it, they'd be pummeled by upperclassmen. It was all courtesy of the class of 1973 that my life was put in danger daily, but that was beside the point.
Sarah led us down the North-facing hallway, heading towards the infamous band hallway. Infamous, because everyone knew of it as 'Stoner Hallway', and at lunch time, you could understand why. Shaggy haired, smoke-smelling miscreants were lined up against the lockers, eating the piles of food they got from the vending machines. We turned left, and through the doors, there she was.
Her jacket almost reached to her knees when she was standing, and she was talking to a very tall girl with reddish-brown hair. Her nose was crinkled as she grinned, trying to keep in her laughter. I felt the corner of my mouth twitch into a half smile, but I quickly shook it away and turned back to Max and Sarah.
"Okay, it's time to see the subject in her natural habitat. I'm your Watson, and I'm right here if you need me," Max said.
"What reference were you trying to make there exactly? You changed a few times," I mentioned.
"Never mind that," He replied. "Thank you for your help Sarah. I'll text you later and tell you how our boy is doing."
She smiled. "That sounds good. You'll be fine, Brendan."
She walked off back down the hallway, and I turned to Max. "I was thinking about this all during 3rd hour, and the plan is that I will pretend to talk to you while eavesdropping on what she says."
"Whatever you need, bro," He grinned.
We stepped closer to Jaynie and her group, so I casually leaned against the doorframe and only partially listened as Max babbled on about something unimportant. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see her socializing with her companions. She didn't seem as quiet as she always was in English, and that made me wonder. What was it about these people that made her bubbly and happy?
I unconsciously leaned a bit closer to hear what she was saying, only to find that her voice was loud and excited.
"Oh my god, Sadie," She said to her tall friend. "It was so fucking funny! In French today, the teacher taught us how to say swear words! I couldn't stop laughing."
I almost jumped right out of my skin. I was surprised to hear her swear; especially it seemed so unlike her. Of course, I was quickly discovering that my previous assumptions about her were very wrong. Even though I didn't cuss myself, I wasn't completely appalled that she did. It was her choice after all. Max seemed shocked too, but he continued his rambling so as not to blow our cover.
I stole a glance over at her, and she caught my eyes with hers right then. Time suddenly froze in place, and she immediately furrowed her brow in confusion, looking like she was about to say something. My stomach felt as if it was suddenly filled with Alka-Seltzer tablets, bubbling fiercely and making me feel strange. I felt a burning sensation in my face, and my knees felt shaky. What was happening to me?
For what seemed like hours, but was probably just a few seconds, it was just me and Jaynie. All the words I had wanted to say for months began surging through me, and I opened my mouth to speak, but she turned away and started talking to one of her friends again. Everything slammed back into motion, and I was left confused and slightly nauceous.
Max looked at me, concerned. "Dude, what's wrong? You look like you're about to hurl."
"Is the feeling you're going to vomit supposed to be present when you make eye contact with a girl of interest?" I asked cautiously.
"No way! You got butterflies!" he grinned.
"What? This can't be butterflies! It feels more like fire-breathing dragons," I commented.
"I just can't believe you already like her that much. Especially since you've never talked to her," he replied.
"Stop reminding me," I stated. "Anyway, I think I have enough observations. Let's go."
"Aren't you gonna go say hi?" he wondered.
"I will by Friday, but not today," I declared.
As we walked back down the hallway, a whole new set of pestering questions filled my brain. "Why did she look over at me? Why did I feel like this? Did she feel the same? When had this even started to happen?" I wondered. Of course, I already sort of knew the answer to the last questions.
It had all started a few months ago. While reading Romeo and Juliet, Mr. Wilson got the class into a discussion about love at first sight. I had noticed Jaynie before, but this was the first time she really spoke up in class with an opinion. "Love at first sight is really only lust," She had said. "But, on the other hand I think you can fall in love at first discussion, or first meeting, because you actually get to know the person a little."
I had agreed with her immensely, but I didn't ever say that I did. After that, I started to pay attention to her. Her nervous habits, her wandering eyes, her ability to smile when the teacher told stupid jokes, and everything else that I noticed, I grew to really like. Was it possible to fall in love with someone's quirks when you just saw them from afar? It was as if I had made a subconscious vow to disprove or prove her theory, and I was annoyed with myself for doing it.
I never wanted to fall in love with anyone. Why had this one girl caused such a reaction in me? Why couldn't she have just let me alone? Of course, it wasn't her fault. It was mine, and I had to get to know her to either save myself, or to develop real feelings for someone. I was terrified for both.