Kenisha, Age 15, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, USVI

There she was. Augustine, in all her auburn-haired, sashaying glory. My eyes burned as I witnessed one of her smiles. It didn't reach her eyes and exposed only the first row of her teeth, but it was still brilliant. I blinked a few times and clutched my satchel a bit closer to me for support as they approached. Three of the most elegant women alive. I couldn't force my sandpaper throat to swallow. They weren't really women yet, I thought as they neared. But it seemed perfectly ill-fitting to call them young ladies. Say hi, I urged myself in a tiny voice. OK, I answered, completely unassuredly. But the tsunami in my stomach stopped, paving way for this intense anxiousness, bordering on dread...

"Hey." The simple word snapped me out of my daze, dragged me back to reality. I blinked a few more times.

"Hello... Who are you and why are you talking to me?"

The beanie-wearing girl before me looked a bit surprised at my polished wording, but it didn't show except in a barely perceptible raise of the eyebrows.

"Oh, great to see you too, locker neighbor." My expectant expression fell back to neutrality.

"How was the break? Never mind; I don't care. Just wondering if you could move your crap over so I could oh, I don't know, maybe get into my freaking locker?"

I blinked, colored a little, and kicked my books over.

"You blink a lot," she observed.

"You swear a lot," I stated.

"I don't swear," she declared firmly.

"Well, there's crap, freaking, and that one time before break you said bloody."

She slammed the locker shut. "Those aren't swear words," she growled, brushing past me.

"In England and such, bloody is considered a swear word, and what are they all really but just derogatory?"

She swiveled around to face me, puzzlement on her face instead of anger. "Nothing," I answered for her, catching a swish of blond hair as someone rounded the corner. I bet it was Alistair, that tiny voice offered. I would not have talked to her anyway, my consciousness pointed out.

"You OK?" she muttered, snapping in my face. I shrank back into my locker, nodding my head instinctively. An avalanche of magnet souvenirs fell to the dingy tiled floor.

"Yes, I'm OK," I said, meeting her gaze.

I read somewhere that eye contact is a sign of sincerity. She bit her lip and blew a tendril of hair from in front of her face.

"You're alright," she said quietly. "Weird, but alright." With that, she turned around and walked down the hall, leaving me to my thoughts and having to explain to the upset-looking boy who made a bee line my way exactly why his magnets were on the floor.

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