The following Monday, Elizabeth arrived at school already prepared for the coming week’s exams. She quickly left her winter coat in her locker and went to meet her best friend, Holly, before classes. The two friends were living proof that opposites could attract, having little to nothing in common both physically and mentally. Elizabeth was a plain looking girl with thick, chestnut waves, deep brown eyes, and the lightly tanned skin of her mixed heritage which often set her at odds with other students. She was reserved and studious, preferring to spend her Friday nights with a good mystery book rather than partying. Holly, on the other hand, was beautiful and popular. She had honey-blond hair down cascading over her shoulders like a waterfall of sunlight, soft-looking alabaster skin, pouty lips and heterochromatic eyes — one a deep brown, and the other an intriguing light golden-brown. She spent most of her time concerned with clothes, dating, and music. They had become friends early in elementary school, and that bond had withstood the test of time and their vastly different developing personalities. Even when Holly had spent a year abroad in Japan, she had called Elizabeth every day and brought her back a showering of gifts and souvenirs from her travels. In present days, Holly shared her fashion sensibility with Elizabeth, and Elizabeth helped Holly learn tricks for remembering class notes with minimal effort. They sat next to each other every day in class, passing notes whenever they thought the teachers weren’t looking.
“Did you hear?” Holly asked excitedly as she set her book bag down and took the open seat next to Elizabeth. The desks in the classroom were as old as the rest of the school, built sometime in the early 60s, and falling apart. The welding that would normally held the desks together had begun to rust, and many of the desk’s tops were no longer fastened to the frames. The chairs themselves were cheap plastic, and bent at old angles from the variety of students who had sat in them over the years. They still utilized green chalk boards, and textbooks that had been written in the 60s — the teachers often had to correct errors in the text that had been changed in more recent years. The minimalistic funding the school receiving prevented them from affording to purchase next school equipment, and had to prioritize repairing the school building itself over the supplies given to students. The school had therefore since been unofficially nicknamed ‘The Ghetto’ by the present student body; while the school board discouraged such an offensive term, it had stuck with the students. The school had been slated for rebuild for the past five years, and the school board claimed it would finally happen after the graduation of the current senior class — Elizabeth’s class.
“About the exchange student?” Elizabeth guessed. It was the talk of her class, as they rarely received new students in such a remote northern town. The entire class was abuzz with intrigued chatter about the subject, and rumors were already flying around about the new student. So far, Elizabeth had gleaned that it was a male around eighteen years old, who dressed sharply for his age, and had come here from a European country. Beyond that, Elizabeth didn’t really care. A student was a student, and she paid little heed to the majority of them.
“I hear he’s from Europe or something.”
“So? Sexy accents!” Holly giggled and Elizabeth rolled her eyes.
“Do you ever think about anything else?” Elizabeth asked, exasperated already.
“Ouch! Sure I do.” Holly feigned insult at the remark. “Food,” she joked. Elizabeth couldn’t help but laugh, because it was accurate: Holly’s fast metabolism meant she could scarf down as much food as she ever wanted, while maintaining her slim figure. Elizabeth sometimes hated her for it, constantly having to watch her own weight.
“Settle down, class.” Their teacher, Mr.Rollins, walked in the door, carrying with him an armful of textbooks. Behind him followed an attractive young man, equally loaded down with books. The chatter almost instantly silenced as all eyes turned onto the unfamiliar face. An attractive face, at that. “As I’m sure you’re aware, we have a new student today,” Mr.Rollins addressed the class as he began to hand out their new textbooks, despite they were likely used and outdated — just like most everything in the run-down public school. “I’m please to introduce Leon Pentagast, who has transfered here from The Netherlands.” A couple Ooo’s echoed from the female students as they immediately imagined the accent associated with that country’s speech.
“A pleasure to make your acquaintances,” Leon addressed the class in the expected heavy accent, as the students began to look him over. The rumors had been correct, he was a sharp dresser. He wore an ironed, button-up, white shirt and fitted dress pants. His shoes were black leather and polished to perfection. But what was most striking was his natural appearance: long, jet black hair was tied back into a neat ponytail, with a single free strand curling around the edge of his face, looking as soft as downy feathers. He had high, sharp cheekbones, a strong jawline and was clean-shaven. But most striking was his eyes: a piercing shade of impossibly electric blue.
Elizabeth was entranced, and it appeared the rest of the female student body was, as well. Holly was all but swooning, and Elizabeth heard her mumble ‘hubba hubba’ under her breath.
“Get a load of this hottie,” Holly hissed under her breath. Elizabeth was too stunned to notice, completely enamored by the enchanting blue eyes. All around the class, all eyes were on Leon. He began to blush under the attention, and the girls all awed.
“That’s enough,” Mr.Rollins scolded and showed Leon to an empty seat directly adjacent to Elizabeth. As his eyes and smile fell upon her, Elizabeth adverted her gaze, attempting to be polite and stop staring at the newcomer. She didn’t want to make him feel more uncomfortable than he already did.
Class continued uninterrupted up until lunch time, when the school bell rang and nearly every female student tried to get the attention of Leon. Elizabeth had to drag Holly away before she could make a fool of herself.
“Why?!” Holly asked angrily as they exited the classroom.
“Check your drool,” Elizabeth scolded. Holly thought she was joking at first until she wiped her mouth and realized she had indeed been drooling over the attractive foreigner.
“I— well, that’s awkward.” Holly blushed and Elizabeth chuckled.
“Come on, let’s satisfy you with terrible cafeteria food instead,” Elizabeth suggested and Holly gave in easily, complacent at the prospect of filling her belly — which had begun to growl. “I almost feel sorry for Leon, though,” Elizabeth commented as they began to walk away.
“Why’s that?” Holly asked, perplexed.
“All that attention from those snotty bitches,” Elizabeth joked and Holly giggled, a melodious sound to the listener. Everything about Holly screamed attractive, and Elizabeth had resigned herself to being the ‘plain’ best friend who made Holly’s beauty stand out even more.
“I’m sure he’ll figure it out quickly enough, just like the rest of us,” Holly commented.
“I would hope so.”
“Or else, we could… rescue him!” Holly joked, feigned turning back but Elizabeth grabbed her by the arm and continued to guide her away.
“Nice try,” Elizabeth scolded, “but your stomach is betraying your true desires.” As if on cue, Holly’s stomach growled again. Holly sighed and resigned herself to giving up on the new, attractive male.
Throughout the rest of the day, Elizabeth felt distracted and distraught. Despite avoiding eye contact with Leon, she found herself unable to shake the sense of familiarity with him. As though she had met or seen him before, but couldn’t place his face. However, she was certain she wouldn’t have forgotten a face as attractive as his, and scolded herself internally for such a silly notion. Still, the feeling persisted throughout the rest of the day, and Elizabeth barely made headway on her schoolwork by the time the time the last bell rang. As she packed up her books, a shadow loomed over her and she startled when a voice addressed her in thick accent: “Pardon me, miss.” Elizabeth jerked her gaze upward to see Leon standing next to her desk.
“Can I help you?” she asked, confused.
“Perhaps. I’ve only been in town for a day, and I have no idea where students our age typically spend their afternoons once classes have finished,” he explained. “Perhaps you know of local ‘hangouts’, as I’ve heard them referred to.”
“I think you’re asking the wrong person.” Elizabeth turned back to her possessions as she stuffed her books into her backpack. She could tell from his expression out of the corner of her eye that Leon appeared disappointed with her response, but Holly soon chimed in before he could turn away.
“I can help!” Holly insisted, jumping to her feet. She gave Elizabeth a brief ‘are you crazy’ look and smiled brightly up at Leon. Leon’s expression brightened. “Elizabeth and I were just about to head to the local coffee shop. It’s pretty popular, and you can easily make new friends downtown — if you know where to go,” Holly explained and Elizabeth groaned internally. She didn’t want to get to know the new student, she wanted the feelings of deja vue to disappear before she had to tell her psychiatrist about the strange sentiment — she just knew Dr.Brunet would take it the ‘wrong way’ and spend the entire next appointment explaining to her why it was an unrealistic and false sentiment.
“That would be most appreciated,” Leon thanked them gratefully and grabbed his bag.
“Meet us at the front doors in five minutes, okay?” Holly requested and Leon nodded his confirmation.
Five minutes later, after fetching their coats and Holly gussying up in the bathroom mirror, Elizabeth and Holly met up with Leon at the front lobby of the school.
“Ready to go?” Holly asked rhetorically, as she led the way before allowing Leon time to answer her.
“Is she always this excitable?” Leon inquired to Elizabeth. Elizabeth once again avoided his eye contact, knowing she wouldn’t be able to help but stare into those beautiful eyes again.
“Pretty much, yeah,” Elizabeth confirmed. Leon chuckled and Elizabeth felt her heart melt at the warmth in his laugh. This was going to be a long afternoon.ns 126.96.36.199da2