Chapter 3 - Katrina
The next day, I’m still thinking about the library as I leave for school. Specifically, I’m remembering when I met that guy. Even more specifically, I’m being crushed by the weight of how embarrassing I was. Every tiny thing my brain has deemed “Wrong” hits me again and again. Prattling on about the plot of Catching Jordan. Saying “Christopher Columbus” to a stranger. Explaining “Christopher Columbus” to a stranger. Slamming my head into someone else's! Embarrassing embarrassing EMBARRASSING EMBARRASSING EMBARRASSING.
I’m a total nincompoop.
Why couldn’t I have looked where I was going. Why couldn’t I have moved slower. Why does my brain have to repeat all the embarrassing until the CRACK will echo in my head forever.
My only solace is the fact that I don’t know him and will never see him again.
Standing in front of my open closet doors, I hesitate. I look to the left, at the dresses and skirts that I want to wear. Nice, long, twirly, old-fashioned things that I love. Things that I only wear on the weekends when I don’t see anybody. I look to the right, at normal clothes that people won’t look twice at. Stuff that helps me blend in. Stuff that says, “please don’t talk to me, I’m shy and stressed and close to panicking, please and thank you.”
I think about all the students preparing for the second day of school. All the germs they could bring in…
Shut up. School is important. Senior year is important. Much more important than any germs that could hang around my classmates in thick, sickly green clouds.
Grimace and bear it, Katrina. Grimace and bear it.
Studying the right side of my closet, I grab old mom jeans and a loose, black, long sleeve T-shirt. Dry brushing my thick, curly hair would be a disaster, and my shoes are downstairs, so I’m all set. I hover by my door, looking longingly at my lovely, safe bedroom. The navy walls. My overflowing bookshelf. My collection of antique key--
“LILLIAN’S HERE!” my mom shouts from downstairs. My phone buzzes with a text from Lillian at the same time.
“OKAY THANKS” I scream back. With one last look around my room, I go downstairs, tripping on the last step. Luckily, this time I’m able to catch myself before I fall on my face.
“Have fun!” Mom says as I grab my backpack and shove on my scuffed shoes.
“Ha,” I deadpan, opening the door.
“Love you too,” I call, running over to Lillian’s truck.
“Let’s get this bread,” Lillian says, clapping her hands.
I make my way to first period AP physics in plenty of time before the bell. It’s kind of a loser thing to do, but I prefer “loser” to crowded hallways. I’d go to the school library, but it’s closed the first week of school.
Sitting down, I pull out the only thing in my backpack, a purple notebook to write down important first B-day of school stuff.
A-day, B-day, it’d be confusing if I hadn’t lived in the same place for my entire life. The days alternate between A and B, with different classes for each. I remember how pleased I was when I went to middle school and learned I didn’t have to take math every single day. I had an entire extra evening to procrastinate its stupid homework!
I sigh and open my schedule. Yesterday, an A day, I had AP Gov, Trig, AP Studio Art, and Creative Writing. Today I have AP Physics first period, then Photography, ASL 4, and AP World Lit.
I sigh again. Opening my notebook, I reach into my backpack for a pencil.
Frowning, I rummage through the front pockets. I swear I packed one--
I slump back in my chair, but jump when something touches my shoulder. I glance to the side and see a hand offering a pen. “Thanks,” I mumble, taking it. I look up and gasp.
He stares at me, smiling slightly. I realize he has two different eye colors. One is grey-blue, one bright green. Harry Potter green. For a second I think he has a scar too, by his mouth, but he shifts into more light and I see it’s just a cleft chin.
“Can I sit here?” he asks, pointing to the empty seat next to me. I nod, and he sits.
Embarrassing embarrassing eMBARRASSING EMBARRASSING.
“Sorry again,” I say suddenly. “For, you know…” I motion to my head.
“It’s fine again,” he says, smiling. “Seriously.”
I don’t say anything.
“Here,” Library Boy says, placing his hand on our tabletop. “It never happened, okay? We’ve never met before. We certainly didn’t smack our heads together. Let’s start over.”
“...okay, then,” I say after a pause. “We’ve never met.”
Library Boy turns away, then turns back a second later. “Oh, hi!” he says. “What’s your name?”
“Katrina,” I say to the table. “And you?”
“Josh,” says Library Boy.
“Nice to meet you."
“Same to you,” he says.
The bell rings, and the teacher steps to the front of the room. “Attendance!” she calls, then starts reading off her clipboard.
I glance over at Li--Josh. He pulls out a book. The book. Catching Jordan. But since I guess the whole Catching Jordan fiasco didn’t happen, I guess I shouldn’t point it out.
“Kat-a-rina De Luca?” the teacher calls out then. I raise my hand, but she doesn’t see. “Kat-a-rina De Luca?”
“She’s here,” Josh calls.
“Katrina, not Katarina,” I quickly whisper to him. I don’t know why. It just comes out.
“And it’s Katrina,” he finishes.
“Thank you…” the teacher trails off.
“Josh. Joshua. Mass.” Josh raises his hand.
And we start over.