One of the greatest storms in living memory was raging outside. I was stood beside my locker, books in hand as I worried about the prospects of leaving school. I noticed my hands shake softly as I dropped my books into a tall pile and shut the door swiftly. I used the lockers to support myself as I looked out at the door to the rest of the world. Other students were huddled by the entrance, glaring in wonder at the harsh gusts of wind and torrid showers of rain. But it was alright for them.
Things were different for me.
There was a young man stood next to me. I turned sharply to look at him, my hair spread haphazardly over my face. In a couple of seconds my hair was back under control and I could survey him. He was taller than most of them with short blonde hair and a firm body. He towered over me, looking down at my slim form. I smiled weakly until I felt one of his arms around my shoulders.
"Are you alright, Miss?" He asked me, his eyes betraying his concern. I looked down in shame and caught a glimpse of my shuddering hands. The weather must have got to me much more than I had initially thought.
"Yeah, I'm fine." I whispered in a voice that clearly mystified him. He removed his arm and started to back away.
But even as he stepped away, his eyes stuck to me. I couldn't tell if he was admiring my body or had actually taken an interest in my general wellbeing. I blinked a couple of times as I tried to figure him out. He smiled back with a hint of uncertainty in his eyes.
"It's Paiva isn't it?" He moved closer to me, his smile growing slightly. I nodded, keeping my head close to my chest. I didn't want to look up at him any more than I had to. "I'm Krister." I couldn't figure out why he was trying to make small talk with me. I readjusted my hair on my head and snatched a look at him. He seemed to be fit, in a healthy sense, but I suppose he wasn't that different from any of the other guys at school. But he was much more caring, much gentler.
"Terrible weather isn't it?" He muttered but I kept to myself. "Terribly stormy."
But I didn't reply. I was a little worried that I was blushing as I forced myself inwardly away from him.
"Alright." He muttered as he moved slowly away and disappeared into the crowd. I tried to follow him with my gaze but I had lost his swishing hair pretty much straight away.
Lots of people had started to venture out into the brunt of the storm but I backed away, right into my locker. A couple making their way down the corridor looked at me as I collapsed to the floor but didn't make to help me. Instead one of the teachers came over to me, offering me a strong hand. I shook my head erratically and he backed away.
"Is everything alright?" He asked anyway.
"Of course." I knew straight away that this guy wasn't going to go away as easily. "I just dropped my pen." I pretended to look around on the floor beside me but he wasn't buying it.
"Come on. What's really going on?"
I took a deep breath and sighed slowly. "I'm just waiting for my friend." He had stopped, bent over with his hand still extended towards me. "I'm just waiting for my friend. She'll be here in just a minute."
I watched him roll his eyes before he straightened up, complained about some sort of pain in his back in a grumpy grunt. I smiled nervously as he retreated into one of the nearby rooms.
But there was no sign of the storm letting up just yet so I sat there for at least an hour, waiting and thinking about what had happened earlier in the day.
Annika had rushed off into the toilets with her phone in her hand. I had looked around and caught countless eyes staring in my direction. For a few seconds I shook them off but then it became too much and I followed Annika. She had shut herself in one of the cubicles and was talking on the phone. I heard her hang up.
"Everything alright in there?" I asked through the door. I smiled at her soothingly as she opened the door and approached me. I found it impossible to stop looking at her but soon noticed how she looked so close to crying. I grabbed a tissue and dabbed at her eyes. As I felt her tears drip onto my hand, I shrieked in pain. She took the tissue from me and gave me chance to check over my skin. It was fine. I was fine.
I turned back to her and had an idea. If Annika had trusted me so far then...
"What do you want?" She asked, a vaguely knowing look in her eye.
I barely had chance to explain when her phone rang again. I heard a rasping voice on the other end of the phone and she ran off to talk to whoever it was. "I'll see you later, year?" She called to me as I walked off. There were still a couple of hours left until the end of the day and I wasn't looking forward to it.
Those hours took longer to pass than I had originally thought, along with the hours that I sat in the corridor waiting for the storm to clear up. It didn't.
It was getting late now, I needed to leave.
I pushed myself up from the floor and eased myself along the corridor. My limbs were shaking out of fear with each step, knowing that it wouldn't be long until I had to go outside. I reached the doors and watched as my fingers wrapped around the handle. I pushed softly and heard the pitter patter of rain as it crashed down. Having already let go of the door, it practically slammed into my face.
My breathing slowed. What was I going to do?
But luckily, an umbrella was held over my head.
I turned to see Annika with a gentle smile and a large black umbrella in her hand. "Didn't think I'd be late did you? So I thought you could finish off what you were saying earlier on. But if you're going to say what I think you are, we might have a bit of a problem because you aren't the first person to ask me that today."
I looked at her and laughed. Her eyes widened, asking me what I was laughing at.