Ben walked from his normal lunch spot to fifth period PE, a smile on his lips. His friends had resumed their teasing from break, but it had been good-natured, so he didn't mind. And each got a turn in getting picked on about a girl, so it was all fair. He supposed he liked Melissa well enough, and they'd probably be going out again, as soon as she pushed the topic enough for him to ask her. But there was something about the new girl. He'd never felt this way about Melissa, and he hadn't even talked to Andi yet. She'd been in his thoughts nonstop since break. He'd hardly even thought about the zombies.
Whoa! He stopped in his tracks. What was stranger? The fact that he'd seen what he assumed were real zombies, or that a few hours later it hardly phased him? Shouldn't something like that consume his thoughts? Give him walking nightmares? But it didn't bother him at all.
As if on cue, he looked to his left and saw Andi by herself at a drinking fountain. It was the perfect opportunity. With the distraction of everyone heading to class, no one would notice him talking to her. And her mom did tell him to say hi, right?
Who was he kidding? He couldn't do that. What would he say? Yes, he'd dated Melissa last year, but the guys were right. If she hadn't initiated it all, basically insisted, they'd have never gone out. And they'd been flirting on and off since elementary school. How would he start something with a girl he didn't even know?
She finished her drink and turned towards him. He should go, continue on to the locker room for PE, but his feet wouldn't move. What was it about this girl? He needed to at least look somewhere else so she didn't think he was some creepy stalker.
Too late. Her eyes caught his, and she smiled, ducked her head, and looked up again. C'mon, do it. There would never be a better opportunity. He'd faced zombies that morning. This whole day was probably a dream anyway, right? Go up to her. Say hi.
His legs obeyed even as him mind screamed, "No!" What was he doing? He couldn't think of anything to say. Wasn't his first remark supposed to be witty or funny or something? This could only end with him looking dumb.
Thankfully, or maybe unfortunately, she didn't run away. Her smile brightened and her cheeks blushed, but she held eye contact. "Hi," he said when he was close enough. "My name's Ben." Somehow his voice came out comprehensible.
"Hi, I'm Andi. Well, really Alexandria, but I go by Andi."
"Cool. First day, huh?" What? Lead with that? Stupid-stupid-stupid.
"Yeah. Seems like a good school. People have been really great so far."
"Nice. Where are you off to next?" Better.
"Algebra with Mr. Simms. Do you have him?"
"Yeah. First period. Always do your homework and you'll be fine."
"You can pretty much say that for any class, though, right?" she said with a laugh.
"He gets mean when you don't do it. Way more than other teachers. I'm still stinging from this morning."
"But I bet it motivates you to finish your assignments for the rest of the week." A half-smile lingered on her lips.
"Yeah, you're probably right."
"So there you go." She gave him a playful nudge on the arm, and a spark shot between them. Not like a static electricity shock, but something deeper, something he couldn't explain. She felt it, too, because her eyes went wide.
"Can I eat lunch with you tomorrow?" he asked, the question coming out all at once. "I mean, unless you already have someone to sit with. Or something." Not only did he have no clue where that came from, but it sounded way too lame for her to accept.
"Yeah, that sounds great."
Wait, had he heard her right? She said yes? Yeah, she did. "Meet me here and we'll pick a spot." Did she notice he had a hard time getting it out without hyperventilating?
Her slight smile said yes, but instead of commenting, she said, "Sounds good. I'll be here."
"We better get to class. You already skipped homework today, so you probably don't want to get a tardy, too."
"I'll be fine. I have PE. But you shouldn't be late to Simms's class. I'll see you tomorrow, if not later today."
"Sounds great. Thanks for everything."
She smiled, waved, and headed towards the math building. He watched for a second, and then turned towards the locker rooms. As he did, he gave a start. Across the way stood Melissa, dressed head to toe in her signature pink, staring at him with a big frown on her face. He contemplated waving, but that might make things worse. Instead he ducked his head and pretended he hadn't seen her. It wouldn't work, but at least it would keep him out of a confrontation for the moment. As he walked into the locker room, it came to him that he didn't care if he smoothed things over with Melissa. There was something special about Andi Thomas.