On Tuesday morning, Sandra got into Mrs Steelfang’s car with mixed feelings running about inside her. On one hand she was sad to see that Roger was still annoyed at her (he didn’t show it through his posture or his expression, but the way he said “Good morning” betrayed his feelings) but on the other hand she couldn’t stop thinking about Rhyley, about how wonderful he had been in the library, about how her life would be perfect if he was like that every day... and also about how she actually really wanted to see him today. Since Roger wasn’t talking to her, she sent a text to Rhyley: ‘Do you have a PS period 3?’
The response came back quite soon after she’d sent it.
‘Want to spend it in library with me?’ she texted.
Double Maths seemed just that little bit longer this morning (and thank goodness it was a period each of her two maths teachers rather than a double of one of them) and then break dragged out as she sat in the library waiting for Rhyley, reading a book for leisure. But at quarter past 11 the bell rang and hey presto, two minutes later, Rhyley walked in, and Sandra had to suppress a small urge to bounce in her seat as he approached, smiling.
“Morning,” he said cheerfully.
“Morning, Rhyley. How was the new moon last night?”
Rhyley chuckled as he sat beside her.
“A new moon is an invisible moon, Sandra. I didn’t really notice anything while I slept. How was your evening?”
“I was only doing homework.”
“You’re always doing homework,” Rhyley teased. “How have you got any left?”
“Well, I listen to music as well. But I work slowly and go to bed if I don’t have anything else.”
“That sounds so boring,” Rhyley told her. He seemed extremely happy today. Sandra wondered why that was. It didn’t appear to be for any supernatural reason - his eyes looked normal again. “You need to get into a video game.”
“You could come round mine and I’d teach you how to play.”
“Oh, is that how our parents are going to think our relationship started? Through playing COD together?”
“My mother saw you at the party, Sandra. She’ll know who you are.”
“She’ll know as in she’ll know I’m your soulmate, or she’ll just know I’m some girl who let you take her outside?”
Rhyley looked thoughtful.
Sandra rolled her eyes.
“Never mind,” Rhyley said. “We’ll tell her who you really are.”
“What’s put you in such a good mood, Rhyley?” she enquired, quite curious.
“I dreamt that you told me I was wonderful. And it felt really good. And I just knew that it was a sign that things are going to work out.”
Sandra smiled too.
“That’s so cool. You were wonderful yesterday, Rhyley. You did everything just right.”
Rhyley looked a little embarrassed.
“Well, I did want to kiss you,” he admitted. “Twice.”
“But you didn’t,” Sandra told him. “And that’s what matters. Now let’s look like we’re doing some work before we get kicked out.”
Rhyley pulled out a folder and Sandra settled back into reading her book for pleasure.
“What subjects do you do?” Rhyley asked as he opened his pencil case and chose a pen.
“English Lit, Maths and French,” she told him. “You?”
“Physics, Chemistry and Economics.”
“Wow, two sciences.”
Rhyley nodded, smiling.
“I’ve always liked Science. Except Biology. Couldn’t stand Biology.”
When she finished the book - she had only picked up a short one, to pass the time - Sandra was at a loss for what to do. She got up and put the book away on its shelf, went to check her school email inbox on a computer (nothing new) and returned to Rhyley. She pulled out of her bag a lined pad which she used to refill her folders and began to doodle. She tried to draw a wolf’s head, but she wasn’t enough of an artist to do one successfully.
Rhyley noticed what she was doing and held out a hand for the pencil.
“Can I draw one?” he asked.
Rhyley took the pad and set about sketching. Sandra watched the lines and shading become a picture. And his was clearly a wolf’s head, and it was a good wolf’s head.
“You’re amazing at drawing,” Sandra told him, awed.
He handed her the pencil and paper back and returned to doing his homework. Sandra neatly wrote the name ‘Rhyley’ beside the picture. She looked to the side and just watched him for a minute or two. He was focused on the task - some Chemistry or Physics prep - and she noticed things about his face that applied to when he was concentrating: his brow was furrowed, his eyes were frowning, his lips pursed out slightly.
‘This is my soulmate,’ Sandra found herself thinking. And then ‘This is mine.’ Something of her own that could never belong to anyone else. It filled Sandra with protectiveness and with a strange sense of longing - strange because it was for something which she already had. She also felt a hint of possessiveness, and knew that from this moment on she would become jealous if she saw any other girl leaning too close to Rhyley or seeming to have too intimate a conversation with him.
Slightly startled by these feelings, Sandra looked back at her doodle-covered pad.
‘Sandra,’ she wrote, watching her pencil as it traced the shapes of the letters. Her. Her name. Hers. Then ‘Rhyley’. Him. His name... But also hers. ‘Sandra and Rhyley’ she wrote. They were each other’s. And Sandra felt an inexpressible longing that she must have evoked in herself through this meaningless exercise. She wanted to be someone’s, and she wanted to be acknowledged as someone else’s. She glanced at Rhyley. He was watching, his expression unfathomable. He held his hand out and Sandra gave him the pencil. Rhyley pulled the pad towards him and screened what he wrote or drew using his left hand. When he’d finished, he put the pencil down and showed her.
Sandra and Rhyley Quentin-Longmorrow.
Sandra’s lip quirked up. Some double-barrel surnames sounded all right, if a little hoity-toity. But ‘Quentin-Longmorrow’? It was simply absurd. But it was a nice gesture too, because it showed that Rhyley wasn’t assuming that if they got married she would simply adopt his surname, following that sexist tradition. Sandra closed her pad and tucked it away. She sighed, wondering what else she could do, when the bell rang.
“Oh, that passed so fast,” she said aloud, her tone a little sad.
“Time flies when you’re having fun.”
“Oh, Rhyley, you didn’t tell me you were a workaholic!”
Rhyley grinned. The pair packed away and got up to leave the library.
“That was really nice,” Sandra said, now being sincere. “We should do that every P.S.”
“Won’t Roger mind?” Rhyley asked, tilting his head slightly.
Sandra frowned slightly.
“Well, I can’t have my soulmate and my best friend fighting forever, can I? You’ll have to get used to each other.”
“I guess you’re right,” Rhyley sighed.
“Of course I am. Right, off to French.”
“I’ve got Chemistry.”
“See you later then.”
Rhyley gave her a quick peck on the cheek. It made Sandra feel shy and excited at the same time.
He walked off, radiating cheerfulness.
‘Wow,’ thought Sandra, who just had to stand still a moment.
And then, in a jokey mental tone, she thought ‘I could get used to this.’