Student Unions: Unions and Reunions
It's Not Time To Worry Yet
The first words Jacob McBride and Meredith Holt ever exchanged with one another were, "So she was dressed as ham?" and "Yeah" in the middle of a group reading of To Kill A Mockingbird for their English class.
The group they'd been randomly placed in by their teacher, Mr. Meder, was supposed to be six but really it was one brunette girl who wore hipster glasses and stared at the group paper like a tiger going in for a kill, two junior variety basketball players who were trying to get through a full game of paper football without the teacher seeing (they moved their books around a bit when he came over to look like they were just looking up something really important for the group), and tiny Hispanic girl who focused only on her page of creepy, morbid doodles.
Jacob and Meredith were seated next to each other by chance alone. They flipped through the books calmly while the brunette pushed through the pages. Meredith didn't remember the brunette's name but she wouldn't have to because she was the one writing everything down for the group.
Turning the pages, Meredith settled on one particularly long paragraph which didn't intimidate her. The words flowed as she read. A lot of it washed over her but she settled on one bit and read it to herself, "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it."
She gave herself a little smirk. It sounded like one of those important lines that teachers always smiled about when you mentioned. She took out her pencil and made a little mark right beside the line. She glanced over to Jacob. He was making marks on his book too.
Meredith had a sudden notion in her head. Why not mention it? It sounded kinda cool. Surely the brunette would be happy and the basketball guys…might check it out. And maybe the other girl could doodle someone without their skin.
She fussed in her seat a bit, adjusting her feet in her woolen boots. Meredith could imagine herself doing just that. But she held back. She could imagine them doing nothing but staring at her for a long time. And the brunette was already furiously stalking the next question.
Settling against the rigid, plastic back of her desk, her back gave a little ping of stiffness. She glanced over at the boy who'd given her the last answer.
For a second when she first noticed him, she wasn't completely certain he was a boy at all. He had on a close-fitting black shirt with characters from some animated show Meredith didn't know but which she'd seen referenced lots of places. He looked young, younger than her cousin just starting junior high.
She envied his hair though. It looked gorgeous, perfectly coifed like he was wearing a hair spray sealed wig. The color was what she'd call "soft caramel". It shined a bit from the late morning sun through the high, narrow classroom windows. She suppressed the random urge to touch it.
His cheeks had a slight blush to them. It was a cold day but this seemed more like a natural tint to her. She thought he had very nice hands, despite his stubby nails. She marveled at a random thought about how he'd look all dressed up like a girl and fought the urge to blush before glancing away.
Jason looked up from his book and noticed Meredith was just looking away. Of course, he didn't know her name. To him, she looked like a model. In that he thought she looked like she was starving herself. He could see the structures under the skin of her neck. And her bones. So lanky. But the parts below that weren't bad.
He flicked his eyes to her breasts automatically but picked out a poster on the wall as an excuse to glance to. Not a lot there, not like the brunette with the tented top on the other side of the group. But she'd notice him easily. Or not…judging by how she was furiously writing. Still, too much of a chance.
Though, he had to admit the skinny model girl also had a nice scent wafting off her, tart berries and a creaky melon. She brushed a lock of her midnight black, shoulder length hair over her ear and glanced back. Jacob brought his eyes down to her book. He noticed it seemed like she wanted to say something. He glanced over at his book. Of course, they were identical for the class. His had a little dog-earring on the cover from where it got mashed awkwardly between his Algebra text and his Health Sciences tome. Hers was flawless.
Meredith glanced at his book. It looked like he'd read through it a few times. She wanted to stretch the spine on hers a bit just so the teacher wouldn't think she hadn't opened it yet. Not that she'd opened it a lot. But still. So…he'd probably find that line cool.
Except, she realized, if he's read the thing so much then he probably knew all about it and she was about to embarrass herself like she'd said something like, "Hey! There's birds in the title!"
She brushed her boots together a bit and listened half-heartedly to the answers as the brunette announced them. Group time was almost over anyway, judging by the fact Mr. Meder was lingering at the market board at the front of the class. Soon, they'd all sign their names on the paper. They'd return to their seats and go over things, like what happened in the book and what it means. She'd begin thinking about her friends in her history class and hoping Angela was over the flu.
Then, the boy with the pretty hair leaned towards her. He bent his weathered book towards her and pointed to a part. Meredith's eyes widened a little. It was the line!
All he said was, "Cool, huh?"
Meredith paused and stared long enough for Jacob to think twice. He leaned back a bit to give her space. He tensed a moment.
He found her response a bit cold as she just said, "Yeah. Cool." She couldn't be sure what the line was he meant. She didn't follow-up. Rather dismissive. Jacob retreated to his seat. As he did, he missed the model girl giving a quick smile before Mr. Meder asked for their attention.
The brunette poked Meredith in the side of the head with the group sheet. She signed her name below the brunette (whose name was apparently Sylvia Burke) and then passed the paper to the boy.
Meredith tried to look busy with something in front of her as she glanced a bit to her right to catch the boy as he wrote his name. Jacob Mc…something. Too far and too scribbled to tell for sure beyond his first name.
Jacob noticed the model girl wrote in lean words and saw the name "Meridith Cold" because of the flow of the letters. And that was the end of their interactions.
They, along with everyone else in a cacophony of squealing metal on tile, moved their desks back into the orderly lines of before and sunk into the anonymous sea of other students.