My Freshman Year: Day 113

Days as a Freshman: 113

Mood: Smiling

“There’s a bench back here.”

I pushed the last couple of bare branches out of my way and walked into a man-made clearing in the back of the campus woods. Justin was sitting in the middle of the small space, sitting on the bench, his eyes on the stars.

The way his sweatshirt was pulled around his head, the way his mouth was slightly open in concentration, the way his eyes traced the clear night skyline above us, made it easy to see what he must have looked like as a boy. Skinny and sweet, adorable because he didn’t know it, innocent for longer than most other kids. Maybe I was making it all up, maybe the dark was making me seen things that weren’t there, but in the moment before he looked at me, I really thought I had seen all I needed to know about Justin.

“Come on over.” He smiled. “The stars are awesome.”

Most people couldn’t say something like that and not sound stupid, but somehow Justin could. I walked over to the worn wooden bench and sat down next to him, looking to a part of the sky he was pointing at.

“See that?” He asked. “That is probably some big kind of constellation.”

“Some big kind of constellation?” I laughed. “So scientific of you.”

“I actually took astronomy the first semester of my Freshman year,” Justin leaned back on the bench, squinting. “I thought it was pretty cool, but I don’t remember a single thing.”

“What’s your major, anyway?”

As soon as it was out, I regretted bringing something so generic and boring to our soft conversation. Long-lost relatives asked about majors. Acquaintances asked about majors.

“Science, actually.” Justin turned to me, hunching his shoulders a little from the cold. “I’ll probably be a teacher.”

We locked eyes for a minute and I had to look away. I tried to make it seem like I was searching the sky for something, but really I was trying to keep my thoughts from jumping into each other and buzzing out like television static. Being so close to Justin was starting to break down my concentration.

“I like kids enough to not kill them.” His boots scratched the dead grass around us as he chuckled a little at his own joke. “And I don’t really have the dedication to be a scientist or anything. My Dad’s a teacher. He likes it a lot. Sometimes I substitute over break…it’s a lot more fun than working at a gas station.”

Justin stopped moving beside me. I thought I felt him stiffen.

“I’m talking like a jackass.” He looked back over at me. “Feel free to tell me to shut up anytime.”

“I like listening.” I did my best to breathe through a thumping chest. “At least, to you.”

Justin laughed again and then stood up. “I’m sorry, I’m freezing.”

“You want to go back?” My hammering heart suddenly pounded its way down to my feet. The idea of going back to my room was horrible. I didn’t want to leave. I’d stay here until I froze, until ice covered me from top to bottom—as long as Justin stayed here too.

“Nah. I’ll just jump.”

And then he started to jump in place, keeping his hands firmly in his front sweatshirt pocket. It was one of the funniest things I had seen someone do in a long time.

“Justin,” I tried to keep my laughter to minimal, in case he wasn’t trying to look stupid. “We can go inside. Seriously.”

“Nope. I like jumping. You should try it. It’ll keep you warm.”

He reached for me, but I slid a littler farther down the bench. “No way. I’m warm enough.”

“It’s freezing out here, Grace. You should really jump.”

Taller and faster than I was, Justin lunged for me and somehow dragged me to my feet, holding my shoulders and trying to get me to follow his lead. He raised his eyebrows and smiled, daring me to look as stupid as him.

“You’re weird.” I started jumping, matching his rhythm, my hair flying into my face. I felt like an idiot. I felt very uncoordinated and un-sexy. I felt like a little kid.

And I couldn’t stop laughing.

Leather Is In…Don’t Tell PETA
Leather Is In…Don’t Tell PETA
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