Kyla scrounged up every last bit of courage to talk to him, yet at the same time exhibited the aloof "I don't give a damn" smile that teenagers worldwide had been perfecting for generations. She even gave Hatcher a noncommittal nod, "Hey."
Hatcher was a Junior, but their birthdays were separated by a mere ten months. In the adult world this meant nothing, but in high school Kyla and Hatcher were worlds apart. Also, as a football player he towered over Kyla's petite little frame. When looking up at him she estimated him to be approximately twelve feet tall. He nodded back, "Hey."
The inside of Kyla's skull burned with the heat of a thousand forest fires. Oh my God, we're actually having a conversation! She had to look away in order to contain the blush which threatened to socially ostracize her forever. She knew the key to successfully beginning any conversation (or relationship) was to instantly engage the other person, so Kyla knew that prattling on and on about the weather would be instant death. And besides, she knew (at least, she was told) that guys preferred directness to their dialog. She also figured that Hatcher would appreciate her taking notice of his bedraggled features and caring enough about his welfare to inquire about them. She didn't know, however, if the previous night's escapades were public knowledge so she was hesitant to bring that up. She also didn't want to seem like some needy, teenage sycophant stalker type, so she remained in character of the worldly teenager who was just too cool to care overmuch. She regarded Hatcher for a moment then said, "Are you okay? You look like hell."
Time froze. No, not froze, more like crashed into a titanium wall at a zillion miles an hour. Kyla could only sit there, rooted to her seat as if the poison from a Puffer Fish worked its way through her bloodstream. Had she just told the hottest guy in the universe that he looked like hell? Were her social skills so inept that, like Lemmings, they were predisposed to commit suicide?
Hatcher actually did a double-take, complete with a questioning eyebrow raise, "What?"
"What I meant was," Kyla quickly responded, "you look like something's on your mind. I didn't know if I could help you get it off your chest."
Which sounded thoughtful, but inside Kyla's head she added, Like your shirt!