Watching From the Sidelines
To say she had captured my attention would be an understatement. She had captured everyone’s. As she entered the cafeteria, people snuck glances at her, turned in their seats thinking they were being discreet. They were trying to gauge her. They say, First impressions are last impressions. The first day is a ‘make it or break it’ moment for most new kids. You show any sign of weakness and you were immediately thrown to the bottom of the food chain. I wasn’t sure what to make of her.
My mind jumped back to yesterday’s incident. Making a deal with Mr. Finch on the first day without any hesitation – even he seemed impressed. And Mr. Finch was hardly ever impressed by anything or anyone for that matter. And what had she called me? Male duck. Honestly, at the moment, I was more shocked than angry. I hadn’t expected her to say that. Now that I thought about it, I don’t think she meant to offend me.
I straightened up as she passed by my table. My eyes followed her as she cut through the center of the cafeteria. She was probably 5 foot 6, 5 foot 7 at most. She was taller than most girls at school. Her short and wavy dark brown hair was cut just above the shoulders. From this angle, I only caught her side profile. She had a round face. Small nose. Long eyelashes. Light pink lips, the bottom fuller than the top. She wore a denim jacket folded to the elbows and ripped jeans folded above the ankles. Her black backpack was slung over her shoulder and she slid her thumb and forefinger along the strap.
She had just sat down at an empty table close to mine when a few guys approached her table. I recognized them as the jocks from the football team. Their de facto leader, Everett, leaned on the table and flashed Beckett a flirtatious smile.
“So, I hear you’re new. Beckett, is it?”
I’m shocked he actually got her name right. Unlike Everett, I actually remembered the girls I went out with.
“I hope people weren’t too mean to you on the first day,” he said, taking a seat next to her. His posse followed suit and occupied the rest of the space. One of Everett’s sidekicks – Jason, I think his name was – slid Everett his lunch tray and Everett slid it to Beckett. “You must be hungry. Here, my treat.”
“I hear you made quite the impression and only on your first day,” Everett continued. “You’ve got the whole school talking. To say you captured my attention would be an understatement. You should be careful. You don’t want to attract the wrong crowd. It’s a good thing I’m here to look out for you. A pretty girl like you should hang with people of high standing.”
Beckett tilted her head then sighed. She abruptly stood up. Everett slightly flinched but then followed suit.
“Look. I’d just like to enjoy my lunch. Alone. So, if you’d please-“
“Aw, doll face. Now, is that the way to treat your new friends?”
“I don’t remember befriending you.”
“You just did. At the same time as when I gave you my number.” He handed her a piece of paper -probably with his number on it – then proceeded to wink at her. I internally gagged. What, did he pull out his number from a magic hat?
She stepped over the seat and started to make her way around him.
“Hey, doll face,” he called after her, “Does that mean you’ll call me?”
Beckett turned around and put a finger up, as if telling him to wait. Then, taking the paper he had handed to her, she crumpled it, then shot it at the nearest trashcan.
“Goal!” someone yelled.
“Burn!” someone else said.
Everett’s face fell as fast as his pride and I chuckled with contentment. Following Beckett’s retreating back, I was sure of two things: 1) I liked this girl’s attitude and 2) she was not easy. But I was never one to give up on a challenge. I was standing at the starting line and I could see the finish.