"You should have seen it, man! She just walked right up to him and, BAM! He flew like twenty feet! It was incredible. I'm definitely blogging this."
Kenny and I are drinking our coffees at a local internet cafe after school. 'The Wired Cup' is a popular spot for the nerdy and lowest levels of high school social rank. It is surprisingly crowded with future computer software developers and hard-core LARPers. The owner of 'The Wired Cup' is a self-proclaimed computer guru as well as a comic book fan. There are often theme nights involving superhero characters and popular video games. At the moment, he is in a heated discussion with a group of students about whether the DC or Marvel heroes are superior.
I don't have much interest in coming every day, but Kenny absolutely loves the place. A few years back, he started a blog. Don't ask me what he blogs about, because I've never read it. I do know, however, that whenever he witnesses something as life-changing as today's fight, the first thing he turns to is the blog. He actually has quite a few followers, and has made some money by putting up advertisements.
A few months back, Kenny's mom decided he spent too much time on the computer, so she decided to cancel their internet. Not one to be deterred, the first place Kenny turned to was this local internet cafe. We've been coming here every day since May.
"Well, I'm sorry I missed all the action. You know, being unconscious and all."
Kenny didn't look up from his work, but smiled. "Don't worry, man. At least five people got a video of it. It’s already up on Youtube'."
I had no doubt of that. The school bully being pummelled by the new girl is not something that gets overlooked. It would become a thing of legend. Generations from now, students would talk of the girl who made her debut by knocking the lights out of the toughest guy in school. I just hope my part in this will fade out of memory.
I want to ask Kenny how big of wimp I looked during the fight, but he is engrossed in his blog writing. Kenny is a small boy, barely five feet tall and as thin as a light pole. He has scruffy black hair that always looks untidy, and glasses too big for his face. He appears as intimidating as a new born kitten. But despite all appearances, Kenny is actually quite powerful. What he lacks in physical strength, he makes up for in intelligence and a way with the written word. More than a few people have lost their reputations due to Kenny's blog.
I scan the crowd, searching each of the faces around me. I look into their eyes. Many have brown eyes, some have blue, a few have green, and even one has two eyes that are different colours. But none of the people around me have grey eyes, with the intensity of storm clouds. None of them have light-blonde, almost white hair that falls in wisps down to their shoulders. None of them sit with their back straight, mouths curved into a gentle smile that could mean all sorts of different things. None of them are her, and to my surprise, I'm happy about it. Claire seems even more special than she had in the nurse's office. She is truly one-of-a-kind.
I wonder what she's doing now? I can't get the thought out of my mind. Claire has been the only thing I could think of since lunch, even after I'd been released back to class. Somewhere through last period I stopped making plans for our first date and started making plans for how I was going to talk to her.
In my head, it's simple. I'll just walk up to her and chat about something menial, like the weather, and then just casually propose that we should hang out at the movie theatre that night. Yes, in my head, it's perfect. Then I remember that I'm not some stud who can just walk up to a girl and ask her out, but a loser who stumbles whenever a girl so much as glances at me.
I bang my head against the table, breaking Kenny out of his trance and causing both our coffees to spill. What am I thinking? I can't possible believe that a girl like Claire would want to date a guy like me. She is way out of my league. I'd have to be the last man on earth to get her to think of me in a romantic way. Even then she might still only want to be friends.
"Uh, Will, you do know you look kinda crazy, right?"
BAM. BAM. BAM. I whack my head off the table over and over again, hoping to either come to my senses or knock myself out again. My head is hurting tenfold from the previous wound, but I don't care. My life sucks.
"Kenny," I ask, deflated, "have you ever been in love?"
"Love?" Kenny is totally focused on me now, his blog incomplete, "Don't tell me you have the hots for someone."
I nod my head, and stare down into what remains of my coffee. I really don't want to meet Kenny's eyes right now. The fact that I brought it up is humiliating enough.
"Are we talking about a girl here, or is this your way of coming out of the closet?"
"I'm not gay!" I shout, slamming my fists against the table. This attracts the attention of numerous patrons. I turn a bright shade of red and try to make myself as small as possible. "I'm not gay," I mutter.
Kenny shrugs. "You never know. Can't assume these days. And as to your question, no, I have never been in love. Relationships aren't my thing."
I nod. I figured that would be the answer. Kenny has a greater love for the computer than he does for other people.
He leans back in his chair and puts his hands together, like therapists do in the movies.
"So, you're in love, huh? What are we talking here? I'm-so-desperate-for-a-girlfriend- I'll-take-anything love, or Va-va-voom-she's-completely-way-out-of-my-league love?"
"Oh my," he says, nodding his head to something I don't understand, "You are in a bit of a pickle."
He picks up his cup of coffee and puts his feet on the table. He looks at me with steady eyes. I can tell he is getting into his role.
“What do I do?” I ask, “She’s so gorgeous, and perfect, and amazing and-and-just- wow! I’ve never met anyone like her, and I never will again. I want to ask her out, but there’s no way she’d agree to go on a date-”
I stop. I turn my head and look out the window. I scan the streets to see if there is anything abnormal. People walk along the sidewalks, talking with their friends and having phone conversations. Traffic is stopped at a red light. The light turns green, and the cars rush to wherever they have to be. Everything looks normal, but in the back of my mind I feel apprehensive. I could have sworn-
“Hello, Earth to William. Are you sure you’re okay?”
“Huh?” I ask. He raises an eyebrow. He is a mix of amused and concerned about my behaviour. I can’t say I blame him. I have been acting weird.
“So, you were telling me about your wonder girl?”
“Kenny, did you feel that?”
“Feel what?” Now he’s confused.
I guess Kenny hadn’t felt it. Maybe I’d just imagined it. It had been a long day, and I could use a long nap.
“Nothing,” I tell him, “I thought I felt something, that’s all.”
“Like what? He persists.
I glance out the window again, hoping to find a solid reason for my uneasiness. There weren’t even any demons out there. There were only humans, living normal human lives. Yet, something didn’t feel right. Like I was missing something vitally important.
“Just that… we’re being watched.”