Comprehension, or "Poker? I hardly know her!"
“I like Mondays,” I grinned wildly at him and he quirked an eyebrow.
“What the hell? How can you... Mondays suck.” Jason held the cards in his hand, debating whether to fold or bluff it out, though I could tell from the slight twitch of his lips that, holding those cards, he could make a mint.
“Dude, hold the cards, don’t fold, and Jesus, Mondays are brilliant – you get to see your friends, discuss your weekends, complain about the week ahead and,” I paused for dramatic effect and he smirked.
“And you get to stare at your favourite bloke for the first time in two days.” I paused, “Well, in your case, favourite girl... but you know.” I raised my eyebrows suggestively at him, and was about to change my distraction tactics when a pair of hands crossed over my eyes.
Plunged into darkness. In my head, I let out a sarcastic ‘woo’, but I sighed aloud and folded my arms.
“Who is it?” Silence, “Pete Schmidt? Steve Appleton?” Silence once more, so I raised my hands and touched them to his. I knew my assailant was male, because his hands were big, slightly calloused and very warm. I leaned back and tried pulling at the fingers that were blinding me.
“Nope.” I actually growled.
“Nathan!” I yelped, he loosened his grip and let me tilt my head back to look up at him. From this angle, he was passably attractive; his eyes glancing down at me with a serious expression that made me want to hug him tight, though mirth was threatening to explode onto his face, “Don’t do that!” He laughed.
“Sorry, lovely.” I grinned and he lazily leaned over, his hands on my shoulders. “Let’s see the cards?” I shook my head violently, remembering his last attempts at poker with the guys, and me.
“Nope. You suck.” I grinned at Jason across from me; he rolled his eyes in response.
“You do!” I retorted, smiling into my hand. My poor Ace of Spades.
“I don’t!” He returned, tugging my hair lightly.
“Are Aces good?” I raised an eyebrow at him, asking him the question he had asked me three weeks ago. He looked at me and narrowed his eyes slightly, even though he was smiling. “Case in point, Nate.” His face flushed and I smirked a little bit. “Get a chair. I’ll teach you... for the three hundredth time.”
“Ha-ha. Very funny,” He muttered, before grabbing one of the green plastic chairs and coming to sit beside me, leaning his arm across the back of my chair easily. I sighed and leaned back against him, welcoming the relative warmth that was coming from him. “I didn’t buy any,” He whispered into my ear as I shifted toward him and showed him my cards.
“Fags.” He muttered, squeezing my shoulder, and my hand dropped inadvertently. The cards clattered to the floor, and we both bent to pick them up, our heads nearly knocking together as they did so. “Did you get rid of...?” He hesitated until I nodded and then smiled slightly, “Thank you. I might attempt to kill you when the withdrawal symptoms kick in, but for now, thanks.”
“Kill me? I thought you only smoked when you were nervous?”
“Stressed.” He growled in an attempt to correct me, then, “Turns out I get stressed a lot more than I thought.” He ended with a half smile, but his eyes were serious and dark.
We were silent for a long time, until he began to shift uncomfortably in his seat, squirming as though he wanted out from the group around the table, tapping two fingers against his knee and looking anywhere but at me. I looked away and sighed, trying to ignore the jingling of my keys because his leg refused to stop moving against mine.
Eventually, I grabbed his knee with my fingers and held it tight, running my thumb along the outside edge of his leg as the near-vibration stopped and his hand dropped to cover mine. I swallowed lightly as his fingers tightened around my hand and I felt his warmth travelling up my arm, making my breath catch and my shoulders drop slightly.
“Don’t.” I whispered, as his hand went to leave mine. “Don’t.” He dropped his hand back to his knee and our fingers linked together. My fingers twitched lightly and I smiled as his did the same back. I looked back up at the game and raised without thinking, Jason folded and I realised I’d managed to win the chips without even thinking about it.
“I won’t.” He held on for a long minute and we sat there, in silence, for a long time as we watched Louis deal without making a sound. I liked this, this silence and comfort between us, where we sat together and didn’t make a sound. He looked over at me about a minute later, relinquishing his grip and making my hand cold.
I didn’t think about it then, but in the hours, the days later, when I sat in lessons that were mind-numbingly dull without a certain someone to pull faces at me, to poke me, to generally talk to me and make me feel better... I felt something that hadn’t even occurred to me before.
I felt like part of me was missing, and that part of me had only existed since September.
“Miss Rosstow?” I jerked alive at the mention of my name, looking up at my English teacher. She looked at me, seemingly ignoring my internal epiphany.
“Yes Miss?” I smiled slightly.
“What did I just say?” There was an awkward pause where I considered the smart answer, then looked up at the board and picked out the biggest and most interesting word on there.
“Something about the holophrastic stage?”
“Very good.” She paused, “Now tell me exactly what I was talking about.”
“I couldn’t, Miss. I’m sorry.” Her smile faded and I frowned too, but she moved onto someone else and let me continue thinking about Nathan.
The mere fact that I was thinking about him was telling me something. I hadn’t done this for two years, and the concept of a crush, of feeling something for someone that was different to me... was fresh and new. I didn’t want a crush on him. I didn’t at all, because I knew it would end in shit and heartache – I was off to uni in a year, hopefully, and then god knows what would happen? He would get bored, or we’d end up drifting apart...
I couldn’t believe I was thinking of the future when today had only just hit me. Today was only just here, and I was only just definitely seeing what had been in front of my eyes. I groaned and slumped in my seat, head in my hands, then, as a hand clapped lightly onto my shoulder, I looked up and raised my eyebrows at my table-mate, Priya.
“Not really. Not a fan of being human, at this point in time.” She smiled and pulled a sympathetic face.
“Work or Applications?” She asked quietly, trying hard not to be heard by our teacher.
“Something like that.” I returned quickly.
“Men?” I smiled. Priya had a way of getting to the point and being funny about it, and I wasn’t exactly going to complain when it got me out of revealing gossip. “So, it’s a him. When, where, and probably more importantly, who?”
I just looked at her.
Nathan. My mind was screaming, Nathan – fucking – Bailey! But I just shook my head.
“It’s not important.” I replied quickly, just as another sheet of work came flying toward us.
Even though it felt like it.