Iron Shackles

I woke up with a headache.  I went to prop myself up on my elbow, but something wrapped around my torso stopped me.  I looked over to see Sam, fully clothed, lying next to me.  

He must have fallen asleep here, I concluded.  I looked at my clock.  Today was Wednesday, and it was almost seven-thirty.  I cursed out loud and shook Sam.  

"Sam, get up!  We're gonna be late."  I shoved Sam one more time and he finally woke up.  He was quite disoriented.

I watched him blink the sleep from his eyes and told him that he fell asleep here last night.  

"Crap, I'm sorry."  He yawned.  

"Yeah, whatever.  We don't have time for this."  I rolled out of bed and searched through my closet for a clean shirt.  I didn't do laundry yesterday, though, so it was a little difficult.  Eventually I found a clean shirt.  I hated it, but I didn't really have much choice.  I looked back at Sam, waiting for him to leave so I could change.  

"I'm not getting dressed with you right there.  You have to go get around too."  He looked confused, like he was still trying to figure out what was going on.

He looked at my clock, and that seemed to explain everything to him.  He rolled off my bed and rushed to open the window and get back to his room.  

A rush of cold air shot in through the open window, and I shuddered and hurried to close it before I caught my death.  

During third hour biology, I nearly fell asleep several different times.  Sam had to keep waking me up.  

When the bell rang Sam said, "I'm sorry for keeping you up last night."

"Shh!  Not so loud.  I don't need people thinking we slept together,"  I whispered.  I looked around.  No one appeared to hear us, though, and I sighed with relief.  

"Why would they think that?"  

"Sam, we're in high school.  My former best friends slept around with anyone who asked them to.  Just because I didn't, doesn't mean that everyone else knows that.  I already have a lot of grudges against me.  No need to add fuel to the fire,"  I explained.

"Oh.  I always forget about that.  I know that I didn't know you then, but I still don't believe you were as bad as you say."

"Sam, I'll see you later."  I turned left down the hallway, opposite of Sam. 

We sat with each other at lunch, keeping the conversation light.  Amber and Adam looked pretty cozy together, but I wasn't sure if they were dating yet.  I'd have to find out later.  

"Nikki, guess what.  So, this amateur art show is coming up.  The best painters will be selected and they'll win a prize.  I don't remember what it's supposed to be, but you should definitely go for it,"  Amber said.  A chorus of agreements sounded from all around the table.  I nearly snorted.

"Me?  At an art show?  I don't think so."  I shook my head.  "Besides, I don't qualify for amateur.  I've been painting since I could write, and I've been in previous contests.  Never won the gold, but I got close.  They wouldn't let me enter,"  I explained.

Amber frowned.  She looked at Sam, as if to say "Help me out, here."  He then turned to stare ta me pointedly.  

"It's not happening.  But thanks for the suggestion, Amber."

"I still think you should try.  But it's your choice, I suppose.  Hey, have you ever thought about french braiding your hair before?"  Amber had a gleam in her eye.

"No, I suppose not.  I've never really been into the whole braid thing.  I used to when I was little all the time, but then my mom got really busy at work, and I got into middle school, and suddenly it was uncool.  Why?"

"Well, I noticed, again, just how long your hair is.  You would look really good with a center braid.  I don't know, it was just a random thought.  I felt like I'd burst if I didn't say anything about it."  

I grinned at her, wondering what I'd ever do without her bubbly personality in my life.

Lunch really woke me up, and the rest of the day wasn't so bad.  Mrs. Bhomke really didn't like me, but I didn't do anything to provoke her, so she had nothing to fault me on.

After the final bell rang, Sam and I walked home together.  I pretended that I had to tie my shoe and let him get ahead of me, and scooped up a big snowball.  I lobbed it at the back of his head, but he turned around at the last second and it hit him in the face.  I couldn't believe my luck.

"Nikki!"  I took my cue and ran, careful not to slip on the ice.  I couldn't look back to see if he was gaining on me, else I would fall on the ice.  But I could hear the snow crunch under his feet.  

Before long, he caught up and tackled me around the waist.  We fell together, laughing.   He held me down and stuffed snow in my face.  I yelled and kicked at him, but he was the stronger.  I looked at his eyes;  they were on fire, so bright and light.  I loved his eyes when he looked like this.  

"Can you let me go now?"  I asked after a minute of quiet stillness.  

"No, I'm afraid I can't do that."  He stood up and put my arms behind my back, his hands like iron shackles.  Like this, we walked the last block and a half back to my apartment 

The End

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