She was cute as a bug, but twice as long, with legs that formed the foundation for the newest skyscraper in John's heart. The way she always tugged at her thick, luscious, chocolate brown hair when she was answering questions in language arts made John wish that she was tugging on his sleeve instead.
If only she'd reach over and touch him with her feathery light hands and whisper in his ear. If only...but then?
John was a wimp. He'd chicken out and cower, even if Lila Sanchez came over him like a rainstorm.
"Okay, class, I'm going to pair you up, and we'll get started on our poetry project," Mrs. Thompson said calmly, but with a quiet air of excitement that showed her love of poetry.
The class immediately grew wary of each other. The girls started picking off the boys they hated, and the boys just hoped they wouldn't be paired with Angeline, the goody-two-shoes who made her partner do everything the exact way the teacher instructed. John prayed for lightning to strike the school. Power outages were much better than being paired off with someone he didn't know.
No such luck. "Marc, you'll be with Lila; Tyler, with Angeline-" a groan interrupted the teacher, followed by sighs from the rest of the guys, "John, go with Tricia..."
He heard his name and blushed when he looked at Tricia. She had her head down on the desk, looking like she didn't even care about passing the eighth grade. She lifted herself up and brushed her strawberry blonde hair out of her eyes, running her fingers through to get out the tangles. She was pretty, like a nineties girl, with those white tennis shoes, white socks, and high-waisted shorts that were normally illegal to wear at school.
John stopped Marc. "Dude, perfect chance. Tell her about me."
"Okay," Marc said.
"But wait!" John pulled him back by his jacket. "Don't tell her I like her! Casual! Make it casual."
He shrugged. "All right."
I slumped over to Tricia's desk. Lila was the only girl I wanted to be paired with.
"Hey," she said with a yawn. "Poetry, huh?"
John didn't say anything. He had trouble taking his eyes off of the floor, and Lila's shoes.
"Well, my talkative new partner, just letting you know that, while I'm pro-poetry and stuff like that, I really don't see the point in this as a project. I prefer to sit and look at the rain. Ooh, how poetic of me!" She was heavy on the sarcasm. "Too bad we have no windows in here."
John smiled tentatively. "At least we'll be safe if a tornado brews up."
They sat in silence for a moment.
"So, Lila's shoes must be pretty fascinating."
"No, don't worry, I noticed you staring at them. I'm not all crazy in-your-head or anything." She flipped her hair over her shoulders and adjusted her glasses.
John looked at Tricia. She seemed normal, but she wasn't. She was beautiful, but there was something about her that made her...weird. Her instantaneous perceptiveness, her piercing green and orange eyes than stole the information from his soul, her withdrawn attitude from society...just weird. Wouldn't any beautiful girl want to be noticed like Lila? She thrived in the spotlight.
"Sorry I'm creepy," Tricia apologized with a hidden smirk. "I'm told I'm a bit...creepy. But I don't mean to be!"
If she was reading his mind, John didn't care anymore. As John looked towards the girl he wanted to be partnered with, Lila giggled and touched Marc lightly on the hand. John's eye twitched.
He turned back to Tricia, who was busying herself with about fourteen pencils clutched in her hand. "Do you, uh, want to get started?"
"Okee-dokee!" She grinned. She let all but one pencil roll from her hand and into the smudged red crayon box on the corner of her desk. "Poetic...what is poetic?" She drummed her halfway-painted nails on the paper and began to write. "Do you mind if I...?" Tricia stopped suddenly and gestured to the poem.
"No, go ahead and write it. I'm no good at poetry."
She didn't move for a moment, the stillness registering as the rotating fan brushed past her hair. "Actually, you should write it. You need some practice if you think you're not good enough."
The pencil fell into John's hand. "Uh," John paused and glanced over at Lila. Marc was trying to grab at her waist.
"You're friend is a jerk."
"Huh?" This girl was making John insane just sitting there.
"You know, Marc. You send him over with a mission, and he totally bails. And worse yet, he wants her for himself!"
"How did you know that?" John's heart accelerated. What if everyone knew about his crush?
"I read people." She shrugged. "It's kind of why I don't have any friends. And, I could hear you talking to Marc earlier."
Oh, jeez. Was he talking that loud?
"Eh, I wouldn't let her get to you," Tricia continued in between writing lines of swirly cursive words. "She's nothing but a skank ho."
John burst out laughing at her extremely ghetto-sounding accent that came out of nowhere fast. "Skank ho," John repeated, glancing at Lila's stunning frame again. "I don't see it."
Tricia dropped her head a little and chuckled to herself. "'Course you don't."
"John, are you making Tricia write the whole poem?" Mrs. Thompson stood over Tricia's shoulder.
"No, actually," Tricia said, "John wrote the whole first stanza." She pulled her hand away to reveal writing that was eerily similar to his.
"Good job, John!" The teacher read what John had 'written' and patted my back before walking away, leaving him to stare dumbfoundedly at his writing partner.
"What?" she asked.
"You...copied my handwriting?"
"Yeah, it's right there." She pointed to the notebook he'd set on the desk. It was open to a page full of his sloppy writing.
"I didn't even notice..." John heard Lila's laughter and trailed off, turning to see Marc's hand on her leg.
"Poetic, huh?" Tricia commented.