Previous – Control
I’m sitting at my table in class, scanning the room for Misa. It’s just the same people I never speak to sitting around talking.
As usual, Misa is running late. Not like her tardiness matters much today. Instructor Inga is having trouble logging into her portal and can’t access her lecture. Until her assistant figures it out, Inga put the class on pause. For now.
Judging by the frustrated looks on their faces, it doesn’t seem like it’ll be a quick fix.
“Good day, ma’am.” Misa says.
She races inside like her life depends on it. Inga ignores her. Instead, she’s shooting eye daggers between her computer screen and her assistant.
Hmm. It appears I’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the view.
Misa takes her seat beside me.
“Good day.” I greet her.
She smiles and digs inside her lavender backpack, searching for something. She’s wearing that yellow dress I love.
For a short girl, her legs look so long in it, and the bright hue highlights her sun kissed skin. It pairs well with the forever sunflower I gave her. Its stem is tied around her backpack strap, beaming with happiness in radiant colors of green, yellow, and black.
“Oo! Got it.” Misa sighs, holding up a black hair tie.
She bundles her dark curly hair into a sloppy spherical shape at the crown of her head, secures with the tie, then checks herself in her tiny mirror she set on the table. She frowns, takes it all down, then does it again and again.
I get a whiff of something tropical whenever she does it. Sweet like berries. It’s driving me crazy, but in a good way…
Her cheeks turn red instantly. She looks down.
“Hey…” she says softly.
“It looks good.”
She looks at me confused.
I motion to her hair. Suddenly, her gray-blue eyes glow like stars until she looks down again. Her head is almost inside her bag trying to avoid eye contact with me.
“T-thank you… It’s driving me crazy today. It’s so thick sometimes it feels like a blanket grew out of my scalp.”
“That’s terrible.” I smile. “You’d have to do laundry in the shower.”
She giggles. Still no eye contact.
I knew it. She likes me. And she didn’t throw away my flower like she did with that idiot Timothy’s.
I’m on a roll.
“Pop quiz!” Instructor Inga shouts out of nowhere. “Since nothing wants to work today.”
She storms across class in a foul mood, slamming papers on everyone’s tables.
Damnit, I knew this was coming… I haven’t paid attention in class since I met Misa. She looks just as unprepared as me with her slack jaw and wide eye shock.
“Are you okay?” I ask her.
Misa nods, looking around the room.
“Are you nervous?”
She groans. “You can tell?”
“You’re making the table shake.” I point under the table. “Your legs.” Her cheeks are red as a tomato. “They’re shaking.”
“Oh! I’m sorry—”
“I’m super nervous. I didn’t bring the right stones today for a quiz.”
“Can you ever? These things just pop up.”
That makes her smile.
Inga slams our quizzes on the table then breezes past.
We touch each other’s hands as we reach for them. Misa yanks hers back as if she made a terrible mistake.
I slide one paper to her and keep the other for myself.
“I’m sure you’ll be fine.” I whisper.
After an hour, I finish my quiz and look over at Misa. She’s chewing on her lip, staring at her quiz in fear.
I slide my quiz over. She looks at me funny and scribbles something on the edge of hers. She taps on it.
I look over to read.
Are you sure?
She erases the note.
I watch Misa look at Inga at her desk. She’s reading from a paperback called Redemption of the Accountant. A terrible book someone made into a terrible movie.
“Now.” I whisper.
Misa slides my quiz under hers and scribbles away.
I watch Inga, still reading.
After a few seconds, Misa slides my quiz back. Our hands touch again as I reach for it. Mine is on top, but I can’t let go… Our eyes lock.
If I could swim in her eyes, I would. They’re bluer than gray now and dazzling as a clear afternoon sky. The way she looks at me makes my heart feel lighter, happier…
Her eyes close.
I lean forward, watching her thick, pink lips —
“Mr. Grim, Miss Honey.” Inga growls, scaring us both. She’s standing beside our table viciously staring us down.
She snatches our tests, rips them to shreds, and throws the pieces at us. I see Misa through a flurry of fast-moving paper. One cuts her cheek open.
Misa hangs her head. I watch as her tears splash onto her bare thighs. All because of me…
“Cheating! Shame on you two.” Inga screams. “ZERO!”
Her eyes shift from green to black as vein like snakes slither beneath her skin. Misa screams. She looked up at the wrong time.
“Alright Inga, we got it!” I snap at her crazy ass.
Misa pushes her chair back forcefully and runs out so fast her sunflower desperately hangs onto her backpack.
Damnit. I wanted to be nice and help, not screw everything up. Now this zero will be in the next parental report and Mom will be in town to remind me how I’ve ruined my life because of it, right when I’m trying to build a friendship with my neighbor, after the best apology ever. I won’t be able to do anything with Misa when my wide-eyed mother is in town!
I look out the window beside me. Everything is pissing me off. The black mountains, the wildflowers. I want the sun to turn black and swallow existence whole.
Fucking pop quiz.
I slam my fist into the table. It cracks in the center making a loud bang that makes everyone jump.
“Emilian! Control yourself!” Inga shouts, her hands are on her hips, staring me down from her desk.
Something in me snaps. I grab my things and run out.
I have to find Misa.