I glanced up at the clock, not actually interested in the time. But then I didn't look back at the board; I didn't continue taking notes. Because I had made eye-contact with him-Oliver. Look away, look away-I still hadn't looked away.
Why does my body never listen to me? He smiled, just a small smile, but one that I had seen before, one that said he was amused by something.
It wasn't one that he often wore. Is he looking at me? No, not at me. There's no one behind me. Look away! Wait, eye contact? He was looking at me first, th-no. He wasn't. Why would he? I still hadn't looked away.
Yes, he was. He had to have been. Why was he still looking at me? Look away! Take notes-something!
Someone walked between us, on their way to the pencil sharpener. Or trash can. Or bathroom. Something, but whatever it was, it was enough time for me to furiously scribble down what Cynthia, my only friend and lab partner in science, had written on her paper for notes.
Through my bangs, I dared to look back up at him. Writing notes, as he had been before. Peridinkle! Of course you were imagining it!
Urf, what a day, I thought to myself. Did it all really happen? I sighed. Probably not. The bus rumbled beneath my seat and crawled away the school in a manner that I was sure wasn't good for the environment.
"You okay?" a voice asked from beside me-his voice.
I glanced over at him for a fleeting moment, then away again. "What?" Once, twice, I blinked, something I had a habit of doing when I was confused.
He laughed. At me? "Are you okay?"
No, not at me. Because of me? "I guess..." Wait, is he sitting next to me? I glanced at him again through my hair. Yes, he was sitting next to me. Why? There was an empty seat just across from us.
He smiled, his eyes, an impossible shade of gold, lighting up. For a moment, we made eye-contact before the bus lurched to its first stop, jerking all of its passengers forward for that brief moment when inertia decided that she wanted to give all of us black eyes.
For once, my body listened to me when I told my eyes to look away.
Say something-no! He didn't say anything first. I cursed my shyness-my inability to speak first.
Ages passed, it seemed, though I know it was just having nothing to do, nothing to think. Finally, my bus stop-unfortunately, he lived a few houses beyond me, so it was also his.
Don't talk to me, don't talk to me, don't talk to me, don't t-"What'd you think of science today?"
Why-wait! Science? Oh no, what if he means-I walked faster, my house in sight. I could only imagine the looks he might have been giving me, they wouldn't go away. I practically ran down my driveway, flinging the side door open and then pushing it shut with my back as I leaned against it, breathless.
"Echo, are you okay?" my mother's voice asked.
I opened my eyes. "Yeah...I'm fine..." Liar, I called myself.
"How about you take off your back pack and do your homework," she suggested gently, used to my oddities.
He sat next to me again the next morning, and the next evening, and the morning after that, and that evening-and he kept on trying to talk to me. Oh, Oliver, just leave me alon-no! Don't think that! But why...?
As always, I remained conflicted.
Even so, I allowed him to befriend me.
"-who, Echo?" It was Noll's voice-Oliver's. "No, I'm not friends with her. I mean, she's nice, but a total ditz."
I looked over at him-yes, it was him, but there was something off about the way he had said it. No, no, no, no, no-why?
He didn't turn to look at me-did he know that I had heard? He had to know-there's no way he could know. The room was too loud. Did I even hear it?
I couldn't stop thinking about it, whether or not he had said it or not.
"Hey, Echo." It was Noll. Why?
I didn't say anything, instead I kept on walking. "Echo."
Don't respond, you'll cry. Don't re-"What?"
My voice had that broken resonance to it that came when I fought back tears.
"Echo, I-" I walked faster. Get away, get away.
I ignored him after that. Why shouldn't I have? For years, I had wanted him to say something to me, but when he did-when he had become my friend-when he had accepted-when he had made me laugh-this. What did it matter?
The cafe buzzed in the back of my ears, and I almost didn't hear a voice ask, "Can I sit here?"
I shrugged. "Yeah..." The cafe was often busy, with no tables empty.
Tiredly, I glanced up-imposible gold eyes, like daffodils.
I knew those eyes-No I don't. I could have sworn that I did. Almost memories, like dust in the bath-grabbing for them only chased them away.
"You look familiar," he smiled.
I smiled back, warmed for an unknown reason. Go away, I told that feeling, No-don't. "Well, I'm Echo."
He laughed. "That's funny, I used to know someone named Echo. It's an uncommon name, huh?"
"Yeah, I guess..." I looked back down at the worn book I had been reading, but his next words chilled me:
AN actually, this next bit was a note to my teacher, but it does explain some things. I do intend on going through this later, re-writing. Because I really wanted this to be more. Also, I got extra credit for the names, and the teacher did want to know if I still intended to finish. Mayhap I'll send her the URI when I do.
Hello. I do love stopping stories in what seems to be the middle. Or mayhap it's that "you're going to finish that, right?" look that people give me when they get to the end. Either way, I wanted to do more, but we only had three days. It was funny, though, when we got this assignment, because I had been planning on writing something similar and had just finished the outline a few days prior. A few adjustments, a lot of eliminating events, a ton of summarizing, and what I had intended on being a multi-chapter story on Fictionpress (the less insane sibling of FanFic) became a four-page mythology project. But some stuff still needs to be explained...
Echo's name I didn't change because Echo is already a pretty awesome name. But Narcissus? That would get some weird looks, and that's coming from someone who's named after a fruit. Luckily, I have random knowledge to help me, otherwise I never would have been able to pick a name. Oliver may seem random, but one of its nicknames is Noll, and when pronounced in Japanese it happens to be Naru...which is a shortened version of Narcissus. Whew!