High school means different things to different people, but to Daniel Richards, it didn’t mean much of anything. He was, by no means, a sub-standard student; quite the opposite in fact. Daniel was simply unimpressed by high school.
Being a senior of moderate popularity, Daniel merited a decent amount of respect among the other students of his school. They would cheerfully greet him in the hallways, saying “Hi Dan,” or, “Lookin’ good there Danny.” Kids would hold the door for him, stand up from their seats on the bus to let him sit in the back, and occasionally, let him cut in the lunch line.
Truly, Daniel had mastered high school. Except for one, single area; relationships.
In the late fall, Pear Valley, Oregon was an altogether pleasant place. The weather was just moving into “Jacket Season,” and the town’s populace were dressing accordingly.
Pear Valley High School (or, PVHS for short) had transitioned from “Summer Mode” into “School Mode”, taking on an omnipresent layer of monotony, and the students’ expressions were reflecting boredom, with a hint of sadness. They would trudge from period to period, laughing and joking to pass the time, but under those smiles was that same “School Face.”
Daniel Richards was among these faces as he walked towards his U.S. Government class, the last period of the day. He walked in the the door and trudged over to his assigned seat, third row from the wall, four seats back. He had sat in this spot long enough to know who would sit in the adjacent seats around his desk. Sitting in front of him would be Christian Stevens, a heavyset boy who was known for his love of hunting and fishing, and not much else. To his left would sit John Riley, Daniel’s best friend, known for his his odd goofy sense of humor, who was liked by everyone. Behind Daniel sat Joseph Redman, a quiet, secluded sort of person who wasn’t really known for much of anything other than the fact that he was a quiet secluded sort of person. The seat to Daniel’s right would be empty. Daniel sat down, made idle chit-chat with John, and then sat quietly in his desk.
“Excuse me,” a voice said. The voice was soft and feminine, and had the sound of someone who was unsure of themselves in their current situation. Daniel turned his head towards the source of the voice, and found that the seat to his right was no longer empty. In the desk sat a girl. “Do you know where I’m supposed to pick up my textbook? I haven’t gotten one yet.”
“Uhh,” Daniel said, suddenly having trouble speaking, “Talk to Mr. Fredrick. He’ll order one from the library and it’ll be here tomorrow.”
“Thanks, I just enrolled at this school last week, and today’s my first day.” She smiled, and suddenly the room seemed uncomfortably warm to Daniel. “I’m Chloe by the way. Chloe Clarke.”
“Hi,” replied Daniel, since nothing else leapt to his mind.
“Um... Are you going to tell me your name?”
“Oh, uh, sorry. I’m... Uh... Daniel.” he thought to himself, "Crap, what is wrong with me?”
“Daniel... Smith?... Grey?... Stevens?...”
“Well,” she said in false exasperation, “That took a while.”
“Sorry, I...Uh... (Think of an excuse think of an excuse think of an excuse think-) I’m... Really, uh... Tired.”
“Oh, okay then,” she said sarcastically. Then she laughed. Daniel felt his face flush.
The rest of the the class period was uneventful, except for Daniel stealing glances at Chloe, whom his eyes didn’t seem to be able to get enough of. The teacher stood at the front of the room lecturing on the subject of capitalism, socialism, and communism. Eventually, the bell rang and the students began to file out the door. In the hallway, John caught up to Daniel, and walked next to him. Daniel noted the huge grin on John’s face.
“Geez, I always knew you sucked at talking to women, but man that was sad. I’ve never seen you so tongue tied.”
“I’m tired,” Daniel replied huffily.
“Dude, that lame excuse didn’t work on the new girl, and it won’t work on me.”
“Do you really think she noticed?”
“Hmm... Well,” said John, looking up and to the right with his head cocked to the left, forming a joking, quizzical expression, “Did she notice the stuttering idiot sitting in the desk next to her?... Probably.”
“So, are you gonna ask her out?”
“Uh, no.” Daniel said frankly.
“I mean, come on I just met her today.”
“How could I ask her out? I don’t even know her.”
“It’s ridiculous, I don’t even-”
“Daniel!” Said, John more forcefully. They had reached the senior lockers.
“What?!” Daniel shot back.
“Do you want to ask her out?”
Daniel drew a deep breath and let it out with a sigh. “Yes,” he said after a pause.
“Then do it,” John said, crossing his arms, “Quit being a wimp, get to know her, and just ask her. Not that hard dude.”
“Easy for you to say,” Daniel retorted sulkily. He opened his locker and put his book away.
“Whatever dude, just trust me okay?”
“Yeah, sure. I’ll see you tomorrow all right?” Daniel, closing his locker and walking towards the door out to where the school buses gathered.
“All right, later man.”
That night, as Daniel was laying in bed, waiting for sleep to come, he thought about Chloe. He thought about how she had asked him her question, instead of someone else. He thought about how whenever he tried to talk to her, he seemed to have to re-learn the English language. And then he thought “It’s worth it. I’ll get to know her, and when the time is right, I’ll ask her.” With this in mind, he drifted off to sleep, feeling that after all this time, high school was finally getting interesting.................
Next month :Homecoming