By: Erica Cope

I pull into the parking lot at school Monday morning, and immediately my eyes find Greyson, waiting for me like he does every day.

“Hey,” I say as naturally as possible. My heart is beating about a mile a minute and speeds up even more the closer I get to him. It's so loud, I swear, he can probably hear it. The thought causes a blush to creep across my face. He looks good today in his faded jeans and white button down shirt with the vertical blue stripes. It's my favorite because the stripes bring out the blue in his eyes.

"Hello," he replies with a crooked smile. As we start toward the school, neither of us says anything. Although the silence is not awkward or uncomfortable, I just want to hear his voice, so I blurt out what must be the lamest conversation starter known to man.

“So, how was your evening?”

“It was quiet. I didn't have any homework, so I went hiking until nightfall.”

I don't know many details of Grey's personal life since he isn't too forthcoming with the information, but I have managed to catch on to bits and pieces every once in a while. His love of the outdoors is obvious. He is always hiking or camping when he isn't at work or school. Probably explains the sun-kissed glow his skin exudes.

“How was yours?” he returns.

“Eh, I mainly just worked on my English essay. Nothing too exciting.” I shrug as we enter the building and head over to my locker. He waits until I have gathered the books for my first few classes before heading in the direction of his locker.

“I have something for you,” he says as he pulls out a rectangular silver package from his brown leather messenger bag.

“What is it?” I ask when he hands it to me.

“It’s just a book I thought you’d like.” His expression is awfully serious for something as simple as a gift but it only lasts a moment before he flashes me a knowing smirk and adds, “You know, something different to read for a change.”

“Ha, ha. Can I open it now?” I ask eagerly. I like presents, who doesn't?

“If you want to. But I should go before I’m late for class. If you can stand to wait, you can open it when we go to lunch.”

I wonder why he would give me something if he didn’t want me to open it right away. I am way too impatient to wait for later so I definitely want to open it now, but I think he might want me to wait. My expression must be conflicted because he laughs at me.

“Go ahead. Open it. Seriously. I don’t mind. I’ll see you later, Mia.” He gives me a casual wave as he walks away. Kinsley and Lila are standing nearby gazing adoringly at Grey. Their eyes follow him down the hall, and once his butt is no longer in view, they glance back at me in disbelief. I give them a small wave and smile inwardly at their obvious jealousy because even though Grey and I are “just friends”, he bought me a present! And despite their best efforts, he still doesn't acknowledge any of them. That means something, right? The first bell rings so I put the present in my bag. I decide I will try my best to wait until lunch to open it.

As I enter my first period, I see a tall, gangly figure leaning up against my usual desk. Flakes of dandruff visibly float down from his dirty blonde hair onto my desk, and I can't help but shudder in disgust.

“Hey, Mia." His eyes light up as he greets me, standing a little too close for my comfort. The boy has personal boundary issues.

“Hi, Ethan,” I force myself to smile while subtly stepping sideways and slipping into the nearest desk.

“I sorta have a question to ask you,” he says, his hot morning breath washing over my face. Did he not feel it necessary to brush his teeth this morning? He runs a hand through his stringy hair, causing a new flurry of flakes to snow down on the new, clean desk I have just claimed. Maybe I can get up and move to a different desk once he sits down? That would probably be obvious though, and as repugnant as I may find him, I don't really want to hurt his feelings. I have to admit it though, I am tempted.

“What's up?” I try my best to hide my repulsion.

“I was sorta wondering if maybe you would go to Homecoming with me?”

“Oh, well,,” I struggle to come up with a reasonable excuse. “You see, well, I, um, have to babysit my little sister this Saturday.”

This is the fourth time he has asked me out this year. The boy just won’t take the hint. How many different ways can I turn him down before he finally just gives up?

“Oh, really?” He looks crushed, and I feel guilty, but not guilty enough to change my mind. I would much rather not go to the dance at all than go with Ethan and his personal boundary issues.

“Yeah, lame, I know, but it's their, um, anniversary so I can't really tell them 'no'.”

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